Trump blocks State Department consultation with China over move to avoid military confrontation

Developments on Day 255 of the Trump Administration:

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Trump Publicly Undermines Secretary of State Tillerson

Donald Trump has publicly denounced a US diplomatic effort over North Korea’s missile and nuclear testing, rebuking Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Spending the weekend at his New Jersey golf club, Trump used Twitter for his intervention on Sunday morning:

Tillerson said on Saturday, at a news conference in Chinese capital Beijing:

We are probing, so stay tuned. We ask, ‘Would you like to talk?’ We have lines of communications to Pyongyang. We’re not in a dark situation or a blackout. We have a couple of direct channels to Pyongyang. We can talk to them. We do talk to them. Directly, through our own channels.

He continued, “We’ve made it clear that we hope to resolve this through talks,” he said, emphasizing that the objective “is a peaceful resolution”: “I think the most immediate action that we need is to calm things down. They’re a little overheated right now, and I think we need to calm them down first.”

The meetings in Beijing indicated a concerted effort between the US State Department and China, North Korea’s economic lifeline, to move the confrontation into diplomatic channels after months of rhetorical threats between Trump and Pyongyang.

But Trump indicated that he had no time for the effort. He followed up on Sunday afternoon with another Twitter blast, filled with an insult of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and a rewriting of history:

Kim Jong-un was 8 years old when Bill Clinton took office in 1993, 21 months before a Framework Agreement that offered the prospect of a long-term resolution over North Korea’s nuclear program.

The State Department responded indirectly to Trump with the message, through spokeswoman Heather Nauert, that “diplomatic channels are open for Kim Jong-un for now. They won’t be open forever.”

However, Nauert added to confusion with the assertion that North Korea “will not obtain a nuclear capability”.

Pyongyang established that capability in 2006.