Rex Tillerson Thinks American Foreign Policy Should be Separate From 'American Values'

Lauren Perry
May 7, 2017

The Trump administration is just at the beginning stages of its campaign to pressure North Korea to give up developing nuclear weapons, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told State Department employees Wednesday morning in a wide-ranging discourse on applying "America first" principles to foreign policy.

Southeast Asian nations generally welcome cordial ties between the two powers but worry about whether secret deal-making might undercut Washington's willingness to stand up to China, which claims virtually all the South China Sea and has conflicting territorial claims with four ASEAN nations. The new images indicate "an apparent resumption of activity" at the North Portal, the tunnel where North Korea appears to have been preparing for a nuclear test, according to 38 North, a Washington-based monitoring project.

On the South China Sea, ASEAN has adopted a cautious approach recently toward China, with a weekend summit of its leaders avoiding references to Beijing's building and arming of islands there.

A statement released after the meeting, the first under the Trump White House, said the ministers and Tillerson discussed the situation in the Korean Peninsula and expressed grave concern over the escalation of tensions.

In an interview with National Public Radio yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan said: "We've repeatedly urged North Korea to fully comply with UN Security Council resolutions".

Tillerson said Washington would negotiate with Pyongyang "when conditions are right" but added a caveat: "We are not going to negotiate our way to the negotiating table".

Some allies and even some USA officials have interpreted Republican President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda, which puts Americans' interests at home ahead of those of its partners overseas, as a threat to retreat from the world. In a speech Thursday, Duterte again stressed that China plays an important role in cooling down tensions in the Korean peninsula, as Beijing is considered the closest and most powerful ally of Pyongyang.

Tillerson said the United States and Russian Federation must improve their chilly relationship, characterized as "almost no trust between us".

Murphy clarified that Washington was not encouraging ASEAN states to formally cut ties with Pyongyang, but to examine the North Korean presence "where it clearly exceeds diplomatic needs".

The meeting came on the heels of a trip to Jakarta by US Vice-President Mike Pence during which he visited the Asean secretariat, and confirmed that President Donald Trump would attend the East Asia and US-Asean summits in the Philippines in November.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said principles were reaffirmed during the U.S. -ASEAN ministerial meeting, including "peaceful resolution of disputes, with full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, and in accordance with global law". "The last thing we would like to see is to have a conflict break out due to some miscalculation", Manalo said.

Tillerson presided over an April. 28 meeting of ministers addressing North Korean nuclear program-related issues in UNSC countries, where he urged United Nations members to suspend or downgrade diplomatic ties with North Korea.

Tillerson called on countries all over the world to implement existing United Nations sanctions on North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs, adding that the USA administration would be willing to use secondary sanctions to target foreign companies that continue to do business with Pyongyang.

Other reports by VgToday

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