UN Ambassador Nikki Haley: 'A Lot of Things Have to Happen' Before the U.S. Talks to N. Korea

By Susan Jones | January 8, 2018 | 5:56 AM EST

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (Photo: Screen grab/ABC's "This Week")

(CNSNews.com) - "A lot of things have to happen" before the United States holds direct talks with North Korea, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said on Sunday.

She was reacting to comments made by President Donald Trump over the weekend.

Speaking to reporters at Camp David on Saturday, Trump said he is very happy that North and South Korea will hold their first formal talks in two years: "I hope it works out. I very much want to see it work out between the two countries. I'd like to see them (North Korea) getting involved in the Olympics, and maybe things go from there," Trump said.

Asked if he would be willing to engage in telephone talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un right now, Trump replied, "Sure, I always believe in talking."

But last October, President Trump tweeted that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was "wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man."

"So why the turnaround?" George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC's "This Week," asked Ambassador Haley on Sunday.

"There is no turnaround," Haley said.

"What he has basically said is yes, there could be a time where we talk to North Korea, but a lot of things have to happen before that actually takes place. They have to stop testing. They have to be willing to talk about banning their nuclear weapons. Those things have to happen.

"What we're trying to do is make sure we don't repeat what's happened the last 25 years, which is them start to act like they're coming to the table; them ask for a lot of money and then them cheat their way through. We're going to be smart this time. We're going to make sure that whatever happens makes the United States safer and make sure that we denuclearize the peninsula."

Haley said progress regarding North Korea will be measured in stages. First the North has to stop its nuclear tests for a "significant amount of time," she said, and then "you go and you work toward the next step." She said denuclearization won't happen "overnight."

Asked if the U.S. is closer than ever to nuclear war with North Korea, Haley said, "It's a dangerous situation," but nuclear war is "not something we want."

"We have said that multiple times," Haley noted. "The president said it. Every member of this administration has said it. But the reality is, this is a very dangerous situation."

Stephanopoulos asked if President Trump's tweet about my-button-is-bigger-than-your-button made things worse by undermining U.S. credibility among its allies:

"They don't wonder if we know what the hell we're doing. I think it's very clear we do. What they know is, we're not letting up on the pressure. We're not going to let them go and dramatize the fact that they have a button right on their desk and they can destroy America. We want to always remind them, we can destroy you too, so be very cautious and careful with your words and what you do. I know it's something that makes people nervous, but if we didn't do it, we would be in a more dangerous--"

Stephanopoulos cut her off: "So you think the tweet was a good idea?" he asked Haley.

Haley said Trump "always has to keep Kim on his toes. It's very important that we don't ever let him get so arrogant that he doesn't realize the reality of what would happen if he started a nuclear war."

Haley repeated that Kim Jong-un "can't sit there and imply that he's going to destroy the United States without us reminding him of the facts and the reality that if you go there, it's not us that's going to be destroyed, it's you."

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