Trump Tells Top U.S. Diplomat: Don’t Waste Time Talking to North Korea

October 1, 2017 Updated: October 1, 2017

WASHINGTON—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’s comment came the day after Tillerson disclosed that the United States was directly communicating with North Korea on its nuclear and missile programs but that Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialogue.

“Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!” Trump said.

Tillerson said during a trip to China on Saturday that the United States was probing North Korea to see whether it is interested in dialogue and that it had multiple direct channels of communication with Pyongyang.

This was the first time the Trump administration acknowledged it was in direct communication with Pyongyang.

The disclosure came as 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.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (not pictured) guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea

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

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on Sept. 30, 2017. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Pool/Getty Images)

In the past, Trump has shown a willingness to negotiate. After announcing new U.S. sanctions last month on North Korea, he also acknowledged diplomacy was still possible, asking: “Why not?”

By Doina Chiacu and Steve Holland

President Donald Trump walks toward reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on Sept. 29, 2017. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)