Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at a press briefing - REUTERS
WASHINGTON - 22 August 2017: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared to make a peace overture to North Korea on Tuesday, welcoming what he called the restraint it had shown recently in its weapons programs and saying a path could be opening for dialogue "sometime in the near future."
"We have had no missile launches or provocative acts on the part of North Korea since the unanimous adoption of the U.N. Security Council resolution," Tillerson told reporters, referring to U.N. sanctions on North Korea agreed on Aug. 5.
"We hope that this is the beginning of this signal that we've been looking for - that they are ready to restrain their level of tensions, they're ready to restrain their provocative acts, and that perhaps we are seeing our pathway to sometime in the near future having some dialogue," Tillerson added.
Tillerson said he was "pleased" to see Pyongyang had "demonstrated some level of restraint that we've not seen in the past."
"We need to see more on their part, but I want to acknowledge the steps they've taken thus far."
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and dozens of missile tests since the beginning of last year.
Its last missile test was of a second intercontinental ballistic missile on July 29. This put the U.S. mainland in range, prompting heated exchanges of threats and rhetoric that raised fears of a new conflict on the Korean peninsula.
U.S. President Donald Trump warned North Korea this month it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States. Pyongyang responded by threatening to fire missiles toward the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam but later said it was holding off while it waited to see what the United States would do next.
Tillerson remarks came just after the United States announced new North Korea-related sanctions on Tuesday, targeting Chinese and Russian firms and individuals for supporting Pyongyang's weapons programs.
China and Russia backed the U.N. sanctions but have urged the United States to enter dialogue with North Korea in return for a freeze in weapons testing.
Washington has long argued that any future talks with North Korea must have the aim of it giving up its nuclear weapons, something North Korea has rejected as long as the United States maintains a "hostile policy" towards it.
North Korea's envoy to a disarmament conference in Geneva reiterated this stance earlier on Tuesday.