"We hope that it is the beginning of the signal that we are looking for - that they are ready to restrain their level of tensions, they're ready to restrain their provocative acts", said the USA top diplomat.
Mr Tillerson said going forward other nations, not so much USA tax payers, would be funding the construction of schools and infrastructure in Afghanistan. "And perhaps we are seeing a pathway in the near future to having some dialogue".
The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution on August 5 banning exports of coal and iron, among other punishments, after Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.
In a reminder that the USA economic pressure campaign on North Korea continues, Trump administration on Tuesday imposed sanctions on 16 mainly Chinese and Russian companies and people for assisting North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and helping the North make money to support those programs.
He told reporters that demonstrated "a level of restraint that we have not seen in the past".
Trump also pledged to commit USA troops to Afghanistan to fight against the resurgent Taliban without announcing a precise number.
Admiral Harry Harris, commander of United States forces in the Pacific, told reporters on a visit to South Korea that while a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear problem is the priority, diplomacy must be backed with "credible combat power". Pyongyang responded the next day with more threats, including a warning that it would target Guam.
"We need to see more on their part, but I want to acknowledge the steps they've taken thus far".
"It is in Pakistan's interest to take those actions", Tillerson said.
China and Russian Federation backed the UN sanctions but have urged the United States to enter dialogue with North Korea in return for a freeze in weapons testing.
Earlier, North Korea condemned President Donald Trump as a leader who frequently tweets "weird articles of his ego-driven thoughts" and "spouts rubbish" to give his assistants a hard time.
Prosecutors in Washington are seeking to recover $11 million from companies based in China and Singapore that they accuse of conspiring with North Korea to evade sanctions.
Also targeted is China's Dandong Rich Earth Trading, which the United States says has acted on behalf of North Korea's General Bureau of Atomic Energy - responsible for the North's nuclear program - and has facilitated prohibited North Korean exports of vanadium ore.
Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, said there was a need for clearer US messaging vis-a-vis North Korea.