Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is at present in China and while talking to the media said that efforts are on to open up channels of communication and have dialogues with North Korea. If it materializes, it could arrest the turbulent situation in the Korean peninsula and pave the way for formal talks between the United States and North Korea.

The statement of the US Secretary of State would mean that there are behind-the-scenes activities going on in spite of the nuclear tests of North Korea and the regular war of words between the two leaders.

The intention of the talks would be to reduce the fears of a probable military action.

Pyongyang plays hard to get

Sky News reports that Rex Tillerson admitted his country was in ‘direct contact’ with North Korea through multiple channels of communication. He added that feelers have been sent to arrange more formal talks. However, the response so far has not been heartening. While the United States wants to start a dialogue, it appears the other side is avoiding talks on denuclearization.

The Secretary of State also said that, if China implemented the latest round of UN sanctions against North Korea, it could compel Pyongyang to review its rigid stand. He believes in exerting "peaceful pressure" which could be possible if China, an ally of North Korea, implements the ban and pressurizes the regime of Kim Jong-Un to halt its missile programs.

A stalemate situation

Options on the table are not very many. The United States could use force to halt the nuclear and other tests. Donald Trump has threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if it continues with its nuclear programs. He has even gone to the extent of saying that sitting around a table with Pyongyang to have formal talks will not solve the problem.

Of course, direct action would have repercussions and decision makers in the Pentagon are aware that any military options will have to be chosen with care because Seoul would be in the firing line. It is a densely populated city and would face retaliatory actions with civilian lives at stake.

America already has its warships in the vicinity and Seoul has its missile defense system THAAD supplied by the United States.

The region is believed to be under continuous surveillance by satellites that keep track of changes on the ground. However, North Korea is a secretive state and very little is known about its preparedness. Therefore, rushing into a conflict could be counterproductive and efforts must be made to pursue the option of formal talks as envisaged by Rex Tillerson.

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