Tillerson on North Korea: Diplomacy will continue 'until the first bomb drops'

By Eli Watkins, CNN

(CNN) -- US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday his diplomatic efforts will continue as long as they possibly can despite the saber-rattling on both sides of the Pacific.

"Those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops," Tillerson said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Tillerson said prioritizing diplomacy to try to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions is President Donald Trump's preferred avenue. Despite a statement on Twitter that suggested diplomacy won't work, the President wants to avoid violence, Tillerson said.

"The President has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically," Tillerson said. "He is not seeking to go to war."

Tillerson says he's 'fully intact' despite Corker's 'castrate' comment

Several weeks ago, Tillerson announced from Beijing that he had direct lines of communication with North Korea and was seeking to cool tensions between North Korea and the United States.

Shortly after Tillerson's comments, Trump took to Twitter to say he thought Tillerson was "wasting his time" trying to negotiate with North Korea.

Tensions have ratcheted up between the two nations as North Korea continues to develop and threaten the use of its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, and Trump has threatened to "totally destroy" the isolated nation.

Asked if Trump's tweets undermined his diplomatic efforts, Tillerson said connections between US and Chinese leaders were close and that the Chinese "are not confused in any way" about US policy toward North Korea.

As for Trump's tweets themselves, Tillerson said the President made the statements he did to try to "motivate action."


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