N Korea ‘unresponsive to behind-the-scenes US outreach’ | North Korea Information
A senior official said the Reuters Biden government has attempted to reach North Korea “through multiple channels”.
North Korea has not responded to President Joe Biden’s administration’s diplomatic efforts behind the scenes since mid-February, including Pyongyang’s mission to the United Nations, a senior Biden government official told Reuters on Saturday.
The disclosure of the previously unsuccessful US operation, which has not yet been reported, raises questions about how Biden will address growing tensions with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
It also adds a new dimension to a visit that America’s top diplomat and secretary of defense will be making next week to South Korea and Japan, where concerns about the North Korean nuclear arsenal are likely to be high on the agenda.
The senior Biden administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed few details of the diplomatic advance.
However, the official said there had been efforts to reach the North Korean government “through multiple channels, including in New York” beginning in mid-February.
“To date, we have not received a response from Pyongyang,” said the officer.
North Korea’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Biden’s administration has so far been cautious in publicly describing its stance towards North Korea, saying it is conducting a comprehensive policy review following former President Donald Trump’s unprecedented engagement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump’s efforts failed to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
The government official at Biden said there had apparently been no active dialogue between the United States and North Korea for more than a year, including at the end of the Trump administration, “despite multiple attempts by the United States to become involved during that time.” .
The U.S. official declined to speculate on how the Pyongyang silence would affect the Biden administration’s review of North Korea policies, which is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.
During his campaign, Biden described Kim a “thug” and said he would only meet him “on condition that he consent to downsizing his nuclear capacity”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has considered the possibility of additional sanctions in coordination with allies to urge North Korea to denuclearize.
So far, the sanctions have not convinced Kim to give up his nuclear weapons.
Blinken is expected to have the first face-to-face talks between the Biden government and Chinese officials on March 18 in Alaska. The Trump administration accused China of failing to enforce sanctions against North Korea.
A confidential UN report found that North Korea maintained and refined its nuclear and ballistic missile programs through 2020 in violation of international sanctions to fund them with around $ 300 million stolen through cyber hacks.
The report by independent sanctions monitors said Pyongyang had “manufactured fissile materials, maintained nuclear facilities and upgraded its ballistic missile infrastructure” while continuing to seek material and technology for these programs from abroad.
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