WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered on Tuesday to begin direct talks with North Korea without pre-conditions, backing away from a key U.S. demand that Pyongyang must first accept that any negotiations would have to be about giving up its nuclear arsenal.

“Let’s just meet,” Tillerson told Washington’s Atlantic Council think tank, presenting a new diplomatic overture amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile advances and harsh rhetoric between the two sides.

The White House later issued an ambiguous statement that

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