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Biden administration sets new N Korea policy of ‘practical’ diplomacy


ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: President Joe Biden has settled on a new approach to pressuring North Korea to give up nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that will explore diplomacy but not seek a grand bargain with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the White House said on Friday.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One that US officials had completed a months-long review of North Korean policy.

Complete denuclearisation of North Korea remains the goal, she said, but she noted that the past four presidents had been unable to get Pyongyang to forswear nuclear weapons.

The Biden policy attempts to strike a middle ground between the policy pursued by Biden’s most recent predecessors.

Republican Donald Trump held three summit meetings with Kim but achieved no breakthrough other than a pause in nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests that has lasted since 2017.

Democrat Barack Obama refused serious diplomatic engagement with North Korea absent any steps by Pyongyang to reduce tensions.

“Our policy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain, nor will it rely on strategic patience,” Psaki said.

Instead, the United States will pursue a “calibrated practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with” North Korea and making “practical progress” that increases the security of the United States and its allies, she said.

North Korea, so far, has refused diplomatic entreaties from the Biden administration. Pyongyang wants the United States and its allies to lift economic sanctions imposed over its weapons programmes.

Psaki did not provide details of what the administration’s next step might be beyond discussions with allies. Biden met Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga two weeks ago and is to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in on May 21 at the White House.

The United States had consulted with South Korea throughout the policy review process and Washington had informed Seoul of its conclusions in advance, the South Korean foreign ministry said.

“The two countries will discuss the direction of North Korea policy at the scheduled summit and meeting of foreign ministers in May and continue cooperation to have the North Korea-US talks resumed shortly.” — Reuters

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