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Trump says Tillerson is 'wasting his time' trying to negotiate with North Korea

President Trump said on Sunday he told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson not to waste his time trying to negotiate with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un — an extraordinary public undercutting of the top American diplomat.

The president's stunning contradiction of Tillerson, amid high tensions with North Korea over its nuclear and ballistics programs, came in the form of tweets sent from his New Jersey golf resort just a day after Tillerson, in China, said the United States has direct contacts in North Korea and is "probing" for negotiations.

Trump's derisive nickname for the North Korean leader — "Little Rocket Man" —  has previously drawn an angry response from the government in Pyongyang. And the president's implied threat — "We'll do what has to be done!" — is the latest in a series of saber-rattling remarks that have raised anxieties among not only U.S. allies in Asia, but the American public as well.

Veteran diplomats and foreign policy experts have been shocked by Trump's seeming glee at baiting Kim, a thin-skinned, isolated leader. The president's latest tweet brought new expressions of alarm.

Former State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said on Twitter that "undercutting your Secretary of State publicly is a cardinal sin of diplomacy."

"Unpresidential," he added.

Tillerson had told reporters in Beijing on Saturday, without giving details, that the Trump administration was in "direct contact" with North Korea over the heightened tempo of nuclear and ballistics tests.

“We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout,” Tillerson said. “We have a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang. We can talk to them, we do talk to them."

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