WH: ‘There Will Be No Conversations With North Korea’ - Unless Talking About Detained Americans

By Melanie Arter | October 2, 2017 | 11:20pm EDT
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Screenshot of White House video)

(CNSNews.com) - The White House on Monday defended President Donald Trump’s tweet telling Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, who he referred to a “Rocket Man.”

“Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!” the president tweeted Sunday.

When asked whether this is the stated position of the White House or if the White House has given up on North Korea, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “No, this is -- we've been clear that now is not the time to talk.

“The only conversations that have taken place, or that would, would be on bringing back Americans who have been detained. Like with Otto, those were the type of conversations that this administration was willing to have. Beyond that, there will be no conversations with North Korea at this time,” she said, referring to Otto Warmbier, the American student detained by North Korea in 2016 and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

Warmbier was returned to the U.S. this year in a vegetative state. A coroner in Ohio who conducted a “virtual autopsy” and external examination said Warmbier suffered from extensive brain damage after interrupted blood flow and a lack of oxygen.

Sanders said there are three Americans still detained in North Korea. Sanders said the only reason for the White House to have conversations with Pyongyang would be to discuss the return of these Americans.

When asked whether Trump believes diplomacy is not worth pursuing in North Korea, Sanders said, “There's a difference between talking and putting diplomatic pressure. We still strongly support putting diplomatic pressure on North Korea, which we're continuing to do, but now is not the time simply to have conversations with North Korea.

“We've encouraged all of our allies and partners to do more, and we're going to continue to keep all options on the table when it comes to that,” she said.

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