Trump to Rex Tillerson: Don't bother talking to North Korea

WASHINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he told the top U.S. diplomat not to waste his time trying to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man," Trump wrote on Twitter, using his sarcastic nickname for Kim.

Trump later tweeted that his White House predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, had all "failed" on North Korea by "Being nice to Rocket Man," so "why would it work now?"

Kim succeeded his father, Kim Jong Il, as North Korean leader in 2011, during Obama's administration. Previous presidents negotiated with Pyongyang. Despite their efforts, North Korea has pressed ahead with its weapons programs.

Tillerson disclosed on Saturday that the United States was directly communicating with North Korea on its nuclear and missile programs but that Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialog.

"Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!" Trump said.

19 PHOTOS
As tensions rise, North Korea stages mass rally in Pyongyang
See Gallery
As tensions rise, North Korea stages mass rally in Pyongyang
A view shows a Pyongyang city mass rally held at Kim Il Sung Square on August 9, 2017, to fully support the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government in this photo released on August 10, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.?
Servicepersons of the Ministry of People's Security met on August 10, 2017 to express full support for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government statement, in this photo released on August 11, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
A general view shows a Pyongyang city mass rally held at Kim Il Sung Square on August 9, 2017, to fully support the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government in this photo released on August 10, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.??
Servicepersons of the Ministry of People's Security met on August 10, 2017 to express full support for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government statement, in this photo released on August 11, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A general view shows a Pyongyang city mass rally held at Kim Il Sung Square on August 9, 2017, to fully support the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government in this photo released on August 10, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.??
A general view shows a Pyongyang city mass rally held at Kim Il Sung Square on August 9, 2017, to fully support the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government in this photo released on August 10, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.??
People participate in a Pyongyang city mass rally held at Kim Il Sung Square on August 9, 2017, to fully support the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government in this photo released on August 10, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.?
People participate in a Pyongyang city mass rally held at Kim Il Sung Square on August 9, 2017, to fully support the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government in this photo released on August 10, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.?
A general view shows a Pyongyang city mass rally held at Kim Il Sung Square on August 9, 2017, to fully support the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government in this photo released on August 10, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
A view shows a Pyongyang city mass rally held at Kim Il Sung Square on August 9, 2017, to fully support the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government in this photo released on August 10, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.?
A view shows a Pyongyang city mass rally held at Kim Il Sung Square on August 9, 2017, to fully support the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government in this photo released on August 10, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.?
TOPSHOT - This picture taken on August 11, 2017 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 12, 2017 shows North Korean youths and workers and trade union members holding a rally to protest the UN Security Council's 'sanctions resolution' at the compound of the Monument to Party Founding in Pyongyang. Nearly a week ago, the UN Security Council unanimously passed fresh sanctions against Pyongyang over its weapons program, including export bans, a new punishment that could cost North Korea $1 billion a year. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIS KNS AND AFP PHOTO / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on August 11, 2017 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 12, 2017 shows North Korean youths and workers and trade union members holding a rally to protest the UN Security Council's 'sanctions resolution' at the Youth Park Open-Air theatre in Pyongyang. Nearly a week ago, the UN Security Council unanimously passed fresh sanctions against Pyongyang over its weapons program, including export bans, a new punishment that could cost North Korea $1 billion a year. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIS KNS AND AFP PHOTO / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A view shows a Pyongyang city mass rally held at Kim Il Sung Square on August 9, 2017, to fully support the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government in this photo released on August 10, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.?
This picture taken on August 10, 2017 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 11, 2017 shows service personnel of the Ministry of People's Security at a rally in support of North Korea's stance against the US, in Pyongyang. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A view shows a Pyongyang city mass rally held at Kim Il Sung Square on August 9, 2017, to fully support the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government in this photo released on August 10, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.?
This picture taken on August 10, 2017 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 11, 2017 shows service personnel of the Ministry of People's Security at a rally in support of North Korea's stance against the US, in Pyongyang. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view shows a Pyongyang city mass rally held at Kim Il Sung Square on August 9, 2017, to fully support the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government in this photo released on August 10, 2017 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.??
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
 

Tillerson said during a trip to China that the United States had multiple direct channels of communication with Pyongyang, the first such disclosure from the Trump administration, and that it was probing North Korea to see whether it is interested in dialog.

Tillerson expressed hope for reducing tensions with North Korea, which is fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

"We are probing, so stay tuned," Tillerson told a small group of reporters. "We ask: 'Would you like to talk?'" He said the United States had "a couple of, three channels open to Pyongyang."

A senior U.S. official, when asked for clarification about Trump's Sunday morning tweets about North Korea, played down the significance of the communication channels.

"At a time when North Korea is continuing its provocations, the president does not think now is the time to negotiate with them," the official said.

The official also said that to the extent that diplomatic channels exist between Washington and Pyongyang, they are aimed at securing the return of Americans detained by North Korea.

Trump has vacillated between direct personal attacks on the North Korean leader and a willingness to negotiate. After announcing new U.S. sanctions last month on North Korea, he acknowledged diplomacy was still possible, asking: "Why not?"

10 PHOTOS
Activists protest North Korea / U.S. tension
See Gallery
Activists protest North Korea / U.S. tension
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing yellow hazard suits are seen next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb after protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy, on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing masks to look like US President Donald Trump and North Korean Kim Jong-Un pose next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb while protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing yellow hazard suits are seen next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb after protesting in front of the American Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing masks to look like US President Donald Trump and North Korean Kim Jong-Un pose next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb while protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing yellow hazard suits are seen next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb after protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy, on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing masks to look like US President Donald Trump and North Korean Kim Jong-Un pose next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb while protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing yellow hazard suits are seen looking at photos on a bulletin board of the North Korean Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing masks to look like US President Donald Trump and North Korean Kim Jong-Un pose next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb while protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing masks to look like US President Donald Trump and North Korean Kim Jong-Un pose next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb while protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.