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US reaches out to North Korea again for policy briefing

By Lee Ji-yoon

Published : May 11, 2021 - 14:32

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(AP-Yonhap) (AP-Yonhap)

The US government last week reached out to North Korea again to explain the outcome of its policy review on Pyongyang, and the North responded to confirm the contact, according to diplomatic sources on Tuesday.

Even though North Korea didn’t immediately accept the overture for dialogue, its response, first in months, is raising expectations about the possible resumption of the stalled talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

There had been reportedly multiple attempts for the US to reengage with the North over the past year. But no meaningful contact has been exchanged, including two overtures denied in recent weeks. 

On April 30, the White House confirmed the completion of its monthslong policy review on North Korea, indicating a more practical and gradual approach to dealing with nuclear-armed North Korea.

It said the new strategy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain, an approach during the Trump administration, nor will it rely on Obama’s strategic patience approach. Both approaches failed, and North Korea has further advanced its nuclear arsenal.

South Korea also welcomed the new approach, touting it as the outcome of close consultations between the two governments.

With more details of the new policy soon to be revealed, its success largely depends on how North Korea responds.

“The time for long deliberations is coming to an end. It is time to take action,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday in his speech marking his fourth year in office, referring to the completion of Washington’s North Korea policy review.

He also urged North Korea to return to the negotiation table: “I hope that we will be able to build peace and move toward prosperity together. We have seen clear potential for issues to be solved diplomatically.”

Moon is set to hold a summit with US President Joe Biden in Washington on May 21. Along with COVID-19 vaccines, a chip shortage and climate change, North Korea is expected to top the agenda during their first face-to-face meeting.

The high-level talks come amid collapsed diplomacy between the two Koreas and the US and North Korea since the second meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and former US President Donald Trump ended in 2019 with no agreement on dismantling the North’s nuclear programs or easing the US-led sanctions imposed on the North

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)