Biden opts for diplomacy after a months-long review seen as a lack of progress in convincing Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons.
US President Joe Biden will explore diplomacy but will not seek a “big deal” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he embarks on a new approach to pressure Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons and its ballistic missiles, the White House announced on Friday.
“Our goal remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
US policy will see “a calibrated and practical approach that is open and explore diplomacy” with North Korea, she said.
The new approach follows a review of North Korea’s policy by the new Biden administration after three front-page meetings between Kim and former US President Donald Trump made no progress in convincing Pyongyang to give up its weapons.
The policies of Barack Obama, who refused serious diplomatic engagement with North Korea in the absence of any measures by Pyongyang to reduce tensions, also had little impact.
“Our policy will not focus on achieving a big market, nor will it be based on strategic patience,” Psaki said.
So far, North Korea has refused diplomatic requests of the Biden administration. Pyongyang wants the United States and its allies to lift the economic sanctions imposed on its weapons programs.
Psaki did not provide details on what the administration’s next step might be beyond talks with the allies. Biden met Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga two weeks ago and is due to meet with 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 findings in advance, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.
“The two countries will discuss the direction of North Korean policy at the summit and the meeting of foreign ministers scheduled for May and will continue to cooperate so that the North Korean talks resume shortly.
Moon last month urged Biden to engage directly with Kim on denuclearization, saying he favors “top-down diplomacy.”
Jenny Town, director of 38 North, a Washington-based North Korean surveillance program, said the outlines of Biden’s policy looked good so far.
“But the details will matter greatly in assessing the administration’s success with this ‘new approach’. I’m not sure there is much to say until I see more, ”she said.
There are still fears that North Korea will resume testing nuclear devices. North Korea launched two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea near Japan in March.
The White House has not said whether it will offer concessions to convince North Korea to resume talks.
The Biden administration simultaneously signaled a hard line on human rights, denuclearization and sanctions, while making diplomatic overtures that officials say were rejected by Pyongyang, which has long called for sanctions relief. .