Nikki Haley on North Korea talks: US has 'been there, done that'

Haley: North Korean threat is first priority
Haley: North Korean threat is first priority

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Haley: North Korean threat is first priority 03:10

Story highlights

  • Nikki Haley said the administration plans to push China and Russia
  • She said it's fine if Trump tweets

Washington (CNN)UN Ambassador Nikki Haley offered a glimpse of the administration's policy on North Korea as tensions mount in the region and the isolated nation continues to develop its nuclear weapons program.

Haley's comments in a Thursday interview on CNN's Erin Burnett "OutFront" came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his first trip on the job to Asia, where he derided the US approach to the country during the past two decades and pledged a new path. In the CNN interview, Haley also said the US plans to recalibrate on the issue.
    "We don't want to get back into the six-party talks," Haley said, referring to the previous negotiating structure. "We're not willing to do that. Been there, done that."
    She said she is not speaking with North Korea's envoy to the UN, and instead plans to call on China and Russia to get North Korea to reverse course on its efforts to increase its nuclear capabilities and develop intercontinental ballistic missiles.
    "We need other countries, specifically China and Russia, to step up and show us that they are as concerned with North Korea as we are," Haley said.
    Asked if a preemptive strike would be on the table should China and Russia not put pressure on North Korea, Haley said she wouldn't speak in hypotheticals but also said all options were open.

    About her boss

    The UN ambassador also said President Donald Trump was not lying on purpose when he said former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign, even though members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have said there is no evidence for his claims.
    "He would never knowingly lie," Haley said.
    As for whether she had Trump's ear, Haley said she talks to him and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, adding that the President has allowed her freedom to speak her mind.
    "He allows me to do my job. He doesn't tell me what to say," Haley said.
    She also said that Trump had never told her how to approach Russia and that he was aware of what she said -- which includes a great deal of criticism, especially regarding Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
    During the campaign, the South Carolina governor criticized Trump on multiple occasions. Since joining the administration, though, Haley has defended Trump on a host of issues.
    She denied that his legally embattled executive order restricting travel from several Muslim-majority nations was a "Muslim ban," and defended his use of Twitter.
    "I think he's fine if he's on Twitter," Haley said. "You're not going to stop him from tweeting any more than you're going to stop me from tweeting."