The rival Koreas are seeking to improve their strained ties after a period of rising tension over the North's push to expand its nuclear and missile arsenals, but the US and its allies are making it clear that while the military drills are on hold, pressure on North Korea won't let up.
But the United States should also communicate that if North Korea does immediately stop that there would be an immediate meeting of North Korea, the United States, China and Japan to establish a nuclear non-proliferation treaty for the region and very serious and significant economic and financial aid and assistance to North Korea from all four countries.
President Trump threatened North Korea with his "much bigger and more powerful" nuclear button following menacing undertones in Kim Jong-un's speech on New Year's Day.
The U.S. described the move to put off its annual drill with South Korea as an effort to "de-conflict" the military exercise and the Winter Games, allowing Moon to "focus on ensuring the security" of the Olympics, due to start February 9. The nationalist newspaper criticized Trump's posturing and advised the US and its allies to take the opportunity to reach out to North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un, who has defied global sanctions and amassed nuclear and ballistic weapons to defend his country. "I'd love to see them take it beyond the Olympics".
"Does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn't firm, strong and willing to commit our total "might" against the North", Trump tweeted.
Late Thursday, the South's president Moon Jae-In and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump agreed to delay joint military drills - which always infuriate the North - until after the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang which begin on February 9.
Dylan Martinez Reuters
Speaking to CNN, Tillerson made clear that Washington was also open to talks with North Korea, but warned that while it aimed to resolve the crisis diplomatically, "those diplomatic efforts are backed by a strong military option if necessary".
Tillerson said future talks involving the United States could allow North Korea to "chart a way for themselves to a more secure future, a more prosperous future". "Because there are so many practical matters to deal with, such as putting together a support team and a team of people to attend the reunions, we're hesitant to jump to conclusions about whether or not an agreement can be reached during the meeting".
If defectors are found in China they are forcibly repatriated to North Korea.
On Wednesday, North Korea reopened a cross-border phone line inside the Koreas' shared village of Panmunjom after suspending it for almost two years.
Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera sounded a note of caution about the proposed talks. "We have no intention of weakening our warning and surveillance".