Joe Biden, the president of the United States, has appointed a special envoy to speak to North Korea, saying he and South Korean President Moon Jae-in remain “extremely concerned” about its nuclear arsenal. Pyongyang.
At a joint news conference on Friday, Biden also said he would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – under the right conditions.
The U.S. president told White House reporters that his ultimate goal was the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but he said he had “no illusions” about the difficulty of getting North Korea to supply its nuclear arsenal. of it.
“We’re both worried about the situation,” Biden said, speaking on Moon’s side. “Our two countries also share a willingness to cooperate diplomatically [North Korea] to take practical steps to reduce tensions ”on the Korean Peninsula.
To help with the effort, Biden said, veteran State Department official Sung Kim will serve as the U.S. special envoy for North Korea.
A Korean-American diplomat, Sung Kim served as special envoy for North Korea under former President Barack Obama and helped set up former President Donald Trump’s summits with Kim.
He has also served as ambassador to South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia and most recently served with an acting capacity as the leading U.S. diplomat for East Asia.
Pyongyang has so far rejected U.S. entreaties for diplomacy since Biden took over Trump, with three summits with Kim and the two famously exchanging “beautiful letters”.
Kim, however, refused to give up his nuclear weapons but put them to the test. He has not tested a nuclear bomb or launched an intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017, even if experts believe his arsenal continues to grow.
Moon, for when North Korea’s relationship is a legacy issue before he steps down next year, said Sung Kim’s appointment “demonstrates the U.S.’s strong commitment to exploring diplomacy. and North Korea’s readiness for dialogue ”.
He said he expected a positive response.
Asked if Biden would consider following up on Trump’s headline arrest but ultimately yielding no results to Kim, the U.S. president said these terms should be different.
The North Korean leader should commit to a “discussion about his nuclear arsenal”, according to Biden, and allow his advisers to meet with their U.S. counterparts to lay the groundwork before such a summit.
“I’m not going to do what has been done in the past; I’m not going to give him everything he’s looking for – international recognition as legitimate and allow him to move in a direction that shows more seriousness in what he never took it seriously, ”he said.
‘Hard to sell’
Biden’s comments appear to indicate a change in his thinking.
The White House said in March that Biden had no intention of meeting with the North Korean leader.
Jenny Town 38 North, a project looking at Washington-based North Korea, said Sung Kim’s appointment given by the Biden administration was positive that there was no rush to fill the position.
However, it gave no indication of what permissions it might offer to discuss.
“The problem in the past was that the administration only talked about denuclearization and continued to describe any negotiations with North Korea as nuclear negotiations,” he told Reuters news agency.
“As such, it’s still hard to sell to get the North Koreans back on the table, but it’s clearly too strong to be pushed by Moon.”
While Moon said Biden expressed support for Korean dialogue and cooperation, the Town said it would not have mattered if Washington, which has refused to ease sanctions on Pyongyang, allowed Seoul the void to continue it.
The White House announced last month that it had completed a review of North Korea’s policy and Biden would differ from the strategies of his two most recent successors, dismissing Trump’s similar personal effort to win more yet Kim and Obama’s hands-off approach.
But the Biden administration has not yet detailed what its third way would be to get the North to abandon its nuclear program.
‘Hundreds of friends’
In their day-to-day talks, Biden and Moon also reaffirmed a strong alliance between the two countries following the moves taken by Trump, which left Moon vulnerable and threatened to remove the U.S. troops from South Korea.
Moon is the second foreign leader – after Japan’s prime minister – to visit the White House since Biden took office in January, and Biden said their conversations were “old friends”.
The two also mentioned China and Taiwan.
Taiwan has complained of repeated military pressure from Beijing with China’s strong force constantly heading to Taiwan’s defense recognition zone.
“We share the view that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is paramount, and we agree to work together on something while considering the special characteristics of China-Taiwan relations,” Moon said.
In another win for Moon, who faced pressure at home for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the U.S. and South Korea agreed on a vaccine partnership that would combine U.S. expertise and production capacity with Korea.
He said it would help supply COVID-19 vaccines to the Indo-Pacific region, while Biden said the U.S. would provide vaccines for 550,000 South Korean soldiers.