South Korea dismissed reports the United States was planning to engage in talks with North Korea without consulting Seoul.
The statement from Seoul’s presidential Blue House comes after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington is willing to sit down with North Korea for dialogue, but only on the condition it gives up its nuclear weapons.
Seoul’s presidential spokesman said Wednesday South Korea has confirmed Tillerson’s concept of dialogue does not exclude its ally.
“How can a dialogue be held without South Korea?” the spokesman said at the press conference.
On Tuesday during an unexpected visit to the State Department’s press briefing Tillerson had said the United States does not intend to threaten North Korea.
“We do not seek regime change. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula. We do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel,” Tillerson had said.
Addressing North Korea directly, Tillerson added, “We are not your enemy, we are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond…We would like to sit and have a dialogue about the future.”
The South Korean official who spoke to reporters on Wednesday said the historical significance of the bilateral alliance with the United States and the “strategic importance” of Korea plays a crucial role in joint coordination on North Korea.
In a separate statement, Commander of U.S. Forces Korea Gen. Vincent Brooks expressed his confidence in the U.S. missile defense system THAAD currently deployed in central South Korea.
Brooks also said the successful interceptor test in Alaska “adds to the confidence” he has in the THAAD system.
“I do not know why anyone would doubt that it is capable of doing what we intended for it to do by deploying it here to Korea,” Brooks said.
China has opposed THAAD deployment and continues to protest the decision.
By Elizabeth Shim