The president has taken an increasingly hard-line stance toward Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests, threatening in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly two weeks ago to “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary.
Tillerson, on a visit to Beijing, told reporters Saturday that the State Department is “probing” through direct channels with the North whether Kim would be open to talks and under what conditions.
“We ask, ‘Would you like to talk?’ We have lines of communications to Pyongyang. We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout. We have a couple, three, channels open to Pyongyang; we can talk to them; we do talk to them,” Tillerson said.
Trump, who is spending the weekend at his Bedminster golf resort in New Jersey, has said repeatedly that he is open to military options. North Korean officials have suggested that Trump's threats amount to a declaration of war.
Later Sunday, Trump said he would succeed where his predecessors had not, but he noted that U.S. diplomacy with Kim has failed over 25 years. Kim is 33 and only came to power after his father, Kim Jong Il, died in December 2011.