Refusing to talk to North Korea won't make the nuclear and missile threats the communist nation poses go away, a US expert said, criticizing the administration of President Donald Trump for refusing to issue visas for North Korean diplomats set to visit for unofficial talks.
Choe Son-hui, director-general at the North Korean Foreign Ministry in charge of US affairs, had planned to visit New York sometime this month for talks with former American officials, such as former US nuclear negotiator Robert Gallucci.
|Choe Son-hui, director-general at the North Korean Foreign Ministry in charge of US affairs (Yonhap)|
But the envisioned talks failed to materialize as the Trump administration overrode a State Department decision and refused to issue visas for the North Koreans in the wake of the killing of the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
"What does the administration believe it achieved by blocking the meeting?" Doug Bandow, a Korea expert at the Cato Institute, said in an article in The National Interest. "Cutting off talks hurts America as much as, if not more than, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. After all, the latter is used to being isolated."
Bandow said that the envisioned meeting would have been a good chance for the two sides to explore ideas at a time when the Trump administration is still putting together its North Korea policy.
Such a meeting wouldn't at least make the problem worse, he said.
He also said that the North's arsenal is growing day by day, with some experts warning that Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal could grow to as many as 100 nuclear warheads in a few years. The North is also feared to perfect its intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities in the not too distant future, he said.
"Refusing to engage won't make that prospect go away. Instead, it will maximize the fear, antagonism and pugnaciousness, which have characterized North Korean policy for years," Bandow said.
The purpose of the envisioned meeting was to unofficially explore possible options for defusing crises, solving problems and improving relations, the expert said, adding that policymakers could pick up any ideas that seem to have promise.
"The Trump administration, and certainly the United States, gain nothing by preventing private Americans from meeting with North Korean officials," he said.
Bandow also said that there is no good option when it comes to the North.
"Military strikes could lead to full-scale war. Sanctions have so far been a dead end. China isn't inclined to destroy its ally and hand Washington, D.C. a geopolitical victory," he said.
Engagement shouldn't be seen as a reward, he said.
"Certainly, talking isn't likely to make the problem worse, and it appears to be the only path that moves forward," he said. "In any case, Washington shouldn't stand in the way of private discussions with Pyongyang. Doing so isn't going to make the North any more pliant." (Yonhap)