Tillerson: US Diplomacy With North Korea to Continue Until ‘First Bomb Drops’

October 15, 2017 Updated: October 20, 2017

WASHINGTON—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday, Oct. 15, that President Donald Trump had instructed him to continue diplomatic efforts to calm rising tensions with North Korea, saying “those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.”

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Tillerson downplayed messages that President Trump had previously posted on Twitter suggesting Tillerson was wasting his time trying to negotiate with “Little Rocket Man,” a derogatory nickname Trump has coined for North Korea’s communist dictator Kim Jong Un.

Trump “has made it clear to me to continue my diplomatic efforts,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson’s comments Sunday come amid soaring tensions between the United States and North Korea following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang and a war of words between the two countries’ leaders.

North Korea has conducted a series of nuclear tests in recent weeks and ago and launched two missiles over Japan.

A Hwasong-12 missile was launching in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Sept. 16, 2017. (KCNA via REUTERS)

Tillerson has been in talks with China to enlist its help on getting North Korea to back down, telling CNN that Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping have an extremely close relationship and that China understands the U.S. position.

“Rest assured that the Chinese are not confused in any way” about the American policy towards North Korea, he added.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a meeting in Beijing on Sept. 30, 2017. (ANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Fla., on April 7, 2017. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

By Sarah N. Lynch