Tillerson praises North Korea for 'restraint,' hopes for 'pathway' to dialogue

He notes that it could be the "beginning" of a pathway to peace talks.

The overture to the outlaw regime came on the same day that the U.S. slapped Chinese and Russian individuals and companies with third-party sanctions for doing business with North Korea.

"I'm pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we've not seen in the past. We hope that this is the beginning of this signal we’ve been looking for," Tillerson said.

The nation’s top diplomat seemed to be trying to encourage North Korea to stay on the path, later noting that "We need to see more on their part."

"They are ready to restrain their level of tensions, they are ready to restrain their provocative acts, and then perhaps we are seeing our pathway to sometime in the early future having some dialogue," he added.

It has only been two and a half weeks since those sanctions passed – and just three and a half weeks since North Korea's latest missile launch, a second ICBM capable of hitting the continental United States.

After a week of tension, the two sides both blinked -- Trump responding to the provocative rhetoric from Pyongyang with only verbal arrows of his own; while Kim Jong-un said he would watch the U.S.'s actions before taking any next steps.

The Trump administration is also staying on course for its "peaceful pressure" campaign against the country by ramping up the costs for China and Russia.

The Treasury Department announced new sanctions against 10 entities and six individuals for violating UN sanctions on North Korea and its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The move blocks their access to U.S. markets and banks, freezes any assets they have in American jurisdiction, and sends a warning for others not to do business with them as well.

But the U.S. argued even then it maintains the right to use third-party sanctions to ensure the countries followed through.

"The implementation is something that we’ll be tracking and taking action on as necessary," Susan Thornton told reporters in Manila days after the UN vote. "If we see that they are not being implemented, then we will again continue to go after those entities ourselves."