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Tillerson says US still interested in dialogue with N Korea

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that Washington remains ready for talks after North Korea postponed a threat to fire missiles into the waters near Guam.

“I have no response to his decisions at all at this time,” Tillerson said at the State Department on Tuesday. “We continue to be interested in finding ways to get to dialogue, but that’s up to” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The top US diplomat maintained that it would be up to Kim when such negotiations would begin.

Tillerson had previously insisted Pyongyang must show that it is ready to abandon its nuclear program by halting ballistic missile and nuclear tests for an unspecified period of time before negotiations can begin on how to resolve the standoff and stop any threat of US military action.

North Korea announced Tuesday that it had completed plans to test ballistic missiles near Guam but would not immediately carry them out. Kim however warned that his country would stay fire-ready while keeping a close eye on Washington’s actions.

According to North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, Kim had been briefed by his missile forces on a “plan for an enveloping fire at Guam” earlier on Tuesday.

The North Korean leader said he would “watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” before executing any order.

If they “persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions” on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea would then take action “as already declared,” he added.

North Korea said last week it was finalizing plans to launch four missiles into the waters near Guam.

The plan was announced after US President Donald Trump threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea. Trump has also said the US military is “locked and loaded” to deal with the North.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula escalated in July, when Pyongyang twice successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of targeting the US mainland.

Pyongyang says it needs its weapons as a deterrent against US expansionism and to defend its nation in the face of any US aggression.

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