N Korea must stop nuke testing before any talks with US: Haley

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Haley lays down condition for talks with Pyongyang after Trump indicates willingness to speak to Kim

WASHINGTON North Korea must stop conducting nuclear tests before the United States would enter into talks with the isolated Pyongyang regime, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday.

"They have to be willing to talk about banning their nuclear weapons. Those things have to happen," she said, one day after US President Donald Trump indicated he would be open to speaking directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"This is going to be phases. This is not going to happen overnight, as we have seen, but it is a dangerous situation," Mrs Haley said on ABC's This Week.

Mr Trump's latest remarks appeared to be a pivot away from his often-bellicose rhetoric on North Korea and Mr Kim, but Mrs Haley said there was "no turnaround" in the US stance.

"What he has basically said is, yes, there could be a time where we talk to North Korea but a lot of things have to happen before that actually takes place," she said.

Mr Trump has jumped between taking a provocative approach toward North Korea - including trading personal insults with Mr Kim and threatening to destroy his regime - and calling for a peaceful resolution.

Mrs Haley said Mr Trump's hot-and-cold approach was "very clear" in sending a message to Pyongyang that "we are not letting up on the pressure".

I think that (Mr Trump) always has to keep Mr Kim on his toes. US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley

"I think that (Mr Trump) always has to keep Mr Kim on his toes," she said.

"It is very important that we do not ever let him get so arrogant that he does not realise the reality of what would happen if he started a nuclear war."

In recent months, North Korea has held multiple missile launches and its sixth and most powerful nuclear test - purportedly of a hydrogen bomb - in violation of UN resolutions banning such activity.

North and South Korea are set to hold their first official dialogue in more than two years this week, and they are expected to discuss the North's participation in next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea.

"Those two countries have to get along. That is good for the US that they can at least start getting back into talks," Mrs Haley said. - AFP