Rex W. Tillerson, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, listens to a question during a news conference after the shareholders meeting in Dallas, Wednesday, May 30, 2007. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

By Sunday Elom

The United States on Saturday said it was directly communicating with North Korea on its nuclear and missile programmes but Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialogue.

The U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, made the disclosure during a trip to China where he spoke about the extent of U.S. outreach to North Korea over its pursuit of a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile.

Speaking to newsmen, Tillerson said, “We are probing so stay tuned. We ask: ‘Would you like to talk?’ We have lines of communications to Pyongyang. We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout.”

He said that communication was happening directly and cited two or three U.S. channels open to Pyongyang.

“We can talk to them. We do talk to them,” he said. However, he did not elaborate on which Americans were involved in those contacts or how frequent or substantive they were. But he said, “We haven’t even gotten that far yet.”

Meanwhile, trying to tamp down expectations, the State Department said that there were no signs Pyongyang was interested in talks.

Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said in a statement, “North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization.”

Tillerson previously had offered little detail about U.S. outreach. On Sept. 20, he acknowledged only “very, very limited” contact with Pyongyang’s U.N. envoy.

When asked about Tillerson’s assertion and what communication there might be between Pyongyang and Washington, a spokesman for the North Korean mission to the United Nations said he “can’t go further into detail.”

Author: Yemi Olarinre