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No sign North Korea is ready for talks, State Department says

Tillerson on North Korea

The State Department on Saturday said officials in the North Korean regime are showing no signs they are ready for talks about denuclearization, walking back comments Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made earlier in the day.

The State Department said U.S. diplomats do have "open channels" for communicating with the North Koreans, after Tillerson said during a visit to China Saturday that the U.S. is "probing" talks with North Korea. Tillerson told reporters the U.S. government and North Korean government have "direct communication" about North Korea's nuclear program.

But the State Department issued a statement later in the day saying North Korea doesn't appear ready to talk or negotiate.

"U.S. diplomats have several open channels in which we can communicate with officials within the North Korean regime," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement. "Despite assurances that the United States is not interested in promoting the collapse of the current regime, pursuing regime change, accelerating reunification of the peninsula or mobilizing forces north of the DMZ, North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization."

Tillerson also said President Trump has "issued no red lines" on North Korea, and suggested an atmospheric test by that state may not necessarily evoke a military response from the U.S. 

Trump: We are totally prepared for North Korea

Mr. Trump's bombastic comments about the North Korean regime have elicited some concern that the president might be coaxing a war with the rogue regime. Last week, the president and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un traded barbs for much of the week, with Mr. Trump promising to "totally destroy" North Korea if necessary in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, and Kim calling Mr. Trump "deranged."

CBS News' White House and senior foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan contributed to this report.