A day after the secretary of state said the administration opened “lines of communication” with North Korea, President Trump on Sunday told Rex Tillerson to “save your energy” because “we’ll do what has to be done” with “Little Rocket Man.”
“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump wrote on Twitter, repeating the nickname he has been using for North Korean President Kim Jong Un.
”Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!,” he posted.
More than four hours later, Trump returned to Twitter and resumed his comments about North Korea and how past presidential administration were unsuccessful in getting the country to give up its weapons.
“Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail.,” he wrote Sunday afternoon as he was heading to the Presidents Cup golf tournament in Jersey City, NJ.
Tillerson, who met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday said the Trump administration for the first time has opened up “lines of communication with Pyongyang. We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout.”
“We are seeing from what we can observe, and the Chinese are telling us, that it is having some effect, and [the Chinese] have a pretty close view of it,” Tillerson said, adding that the situation is a “bit overheated right now.”
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert did nothing to clear up the inconsistent statements by Trump and Tillerson in a series of Tweets on Sunday and only reiterated that the ultimate goal is stopping North Korea from becoming a nuclear power.
“Diplomatic channels are open for #KimJongUn for now. They won’t be open forever,” she wrote. North Korea “will not obtain a nuclear capability. Whether through diplomacy or force is up to the regime.”
A senior US official told Reuters the president simply doesn’t think talks with the regime will bear fruit.
“At a time when North Korea is continuing its provocations, the president does not think now is the time to negotiate with them,” the official told the news service.
Trump has warned Kim’s regime that he would “totally destroy” North Korea if forced to defend the US or its allies in the region.
He also referred to Kim as “Rocket Man” during a speech last month to the United Nations General Assembly and said the despot is on a “suicide mission.”
North Korea is under punishing sanctions imposed by the UN that restricts its imports, especially fuel, for its continuing military provocations that include detonating a nuclear device and launching intercontinental ballistic missiles.
While backing the sanctions, China and Russia have both encouraged the US to try to find a diplomatic solution to the standoff between the two countries.