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Rex Tillerson said the U.S. is in talks with North Korea. Cliff Owen / AP

Sec. of State Rex Tillerson said today that the U.S. has "three channels open to Pyongyang," confirming for the first time that the Trump administration is in direct talks with North Korea, NYT reports. The channels allow the admin and the North Korean regime to talk about nuclear and missile tests, and, some hope, avoid a war between the two countries.

Key quote: "We ask, 'Would you like to talk?' We have lines of communications to Pyongyang — we're not in a dark situation, a blackout," Tillerson said. "We can talk to them. We do talk to them. Directly."

This is similar to the Obama administration's communication with Iran, but Tillerson argued, "We are not going to put together a nuclear deal in North Korea that is as flimsy as the one in Iran." The goal, he said, is to decrease the tension between North Korea and the U.S. and lower the likelihood of threats from the DPRK.

"I think everyone would like for it to calm down," Tillerson said of both Kim Jong-un's and Trump's back-and-forth threats.

Go deeper: Trump and Kim Jong-un are in a war of words.

Go deeper

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

6 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.