President Trump has not only repeatedly ruled out diplomacy with North Korea, he has also repeatedly mocked the very idea of diplomacy in general as a “waste of time,” insisting North Korea “only understands one thing.”
Despite repudiating talks several times, the US is continuing to participate in direct diplomacy with North Korea through the “New York channel,” where negotiators deal with North Korea’s diplomats to the United Nations.
This is in keeping with comments in mid-October by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said that the US intends to continue diplomatic efforts with North Korea “until the first bomb drops.” Since this came amid President Trump talking about totally destroying North Korea, that sounded more than a little ominous at the time.
But the talks are continuing, if a bit on the sidelines. What remains to be seen, however, is whether this willingness to engage through the New York channel would actually include willingness to make a diplomatic deal to reduce tensions, something that so far the administration has been very averse to.