Biden's North Korea strategy kept in secret for now

Biden's North Korea strategy kept in secret for now

The Biden administration contacted North Korea last week to explain the results of its review of U.S. North Korea policy, according to local news reports. After Joe Biden took office in January, the U.S. began a review of its North Korea policy, but Pyongyang ignored suggestions to return to the negotiating table.

According to The Diplomat, however, in a recent response, North Korea is believed to have said “well received” on the suggestion to talk made by the United States. Unlike the North’s previous harsh and chill statements toward Biden and South Korea, its response now seems to indicate that it will not immediately reject a U.S. proposal to meet and will be able to provide more detailed responses after an internal review by high-ranking officials, experts said.

If North Korea decides to re-engage in talks with the United States, the long-stalled negotiation process between the two countries may resume after the end of Trump’s impromptu approach to handle the peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on April 30 that the Biden administration had completed a policy review on North Korea, adding that the administration would seek diplomacy with North Korea through a “practical approach” aimed at complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. 

In this regard, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a press conference on May 3 that the Biden administration has a very clear policy focused on diplomacy to bring conductive and irreversible results in the denuclearization process and it is up to North Korea to engage.

Experts analyzed the new policy as an indication that Washington would pursue a phased approach without relying on the Trump administration’s “grand bargain” approach nor the Obama administration’s “strategic patience” approach. However, some pointed out that it is difficult to grasp the details of the new policy as the Biden administration has not unveiled the detailed contents of its new policy on North Korea. At this point, the Biden administration is likely to explain the process and results of its policy review to North Korea first before disclosing the details to the public. 

After Biden’s first speech to Congress and Psaki’s remarks in late April, North Korea harshly criticized Biden for calling the North Korean nuclear issue a security threat to the United States. The Biden administration did not rise to the bait, declining to react to Pyongyang’s pungent statement and continuing to reach out through established channels.

Since Washington unveiled its new policy on North Korea, experts say that the Biden administration is trying to explain the process and contents of the new policy to North Korea so as to bring the North back to the negotiating table. 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a press conference on Monday at the presidential Blue House that his government is going to find a way to restore dialogue between the South and the North, and the U.S. and the North by closely coordinating policy with the United States.   

Lee Soo-hyuck, the South Korean ambassador to the United States, said in a video conference with reporters on the same day that the government wants to continue its watertight cooperation with the U.S. administration in the process of implementing the policy toward North Korea. Chung Eui-yong, the South Korean foreign minister, had meetings with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts during the Group of 7 foreign ministers meeting in London last week. During those meetings, Chung shared their common goals to make a peaceful Korean Peninsula and tackle the North’s advanced nuclear and missile programs by building a firm military alliance. 

The Biden administration’s new approach to North Korea is expected to be a major agenda item at the South Korea-U.S. summit scheduled for May 21 at the White House.

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