N. Korea "well received" US offer to explain its new N. Korea policy

Posted on : 2021-05-12 16:59 KST Modified on : 2021-05-12 17:02 KST
If true, this lays the foundation for dialogue between the US and North Korea
US President Joe Biden (AFP/Yonhap News)
US President Joe Biden (AFP/Yonhap News)

North Korea has reportedly said it "well received" the US offer to explain the outcome of its North Korea policy review, according to South Korean media.

The proposal, if true, paves the foundation for a more formal invitation that the US will extend through diplomatic channels within the next few days.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki unveiled the framework for a new North Korea policy on April 30, "a calibrated, practical approach" that is open to diplomacy, with the future aim of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

It is also said that the US government may disclose more terms of its policy, but not before Pyongyang has been briefed.

That's different from what Josh Rogin, foreign affairs columnist for the Washington Post, reported in his Wednesday column last week, titled "Biden's North Korea Strategy: Hurry Up and Wait." Rogin quoted two senior US officials as saying that Pyongyang had ignored attempts by the Biden administration to convey the results of its North Korea policy review.

If what the Hankyoreh learned Monday is correct, North Korea likely confirmed the receipt of the US's message in the middle of last week. One implication is that it's too early to conclude that North Korea is opposed to the US's North Korea policy or that it has rejected the US's proposal to make contact.

In other words, we may have to wait a little longer to see what conclusion is reached by the North Koreans.

North Korea hasn't published any statements addressing the new policy. Pyongyang did criticize the US in back-to-back statements on May 2, but its criticism was focused on a US State Department spokesperson's comments about the North Korean human rights situation and Biden's emphasis on "diplomacy as well as stern deterrence" on the North Korean and Iranian nuclear issues in a recent address to a joint session of Congress.

Amid ongoing speculation about whether South Korea will take part in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, Seoul is reportedly looking thoughtfully into the option of joining working groups in the three areas of COVID-19 vaccines, climate change and new technology. The Quad is an informal group, consisting of the US, Japan, India and Australia, that's largely aimed at countering China.

But a Blue House official said the US hasn't even asked the South Korean government to take part in the Quad working groups.

"We aren't currently reviewing any request [from the US about participating]," the official said, mentioning a Blue House statement from March about "actively [cooperating] with any plan for a regional deliberative body, as long as it complies with transparency, openness, inclusivity, and international norms."

Edgard Kagan, senior director for East Asia and Oceania at the White House's National Security Council, said Friday that the Quad "is not a security alliance [or] an Asian NATO" and explained that "it offers a very flexible framework." Kagan made the comments in a virtual seminar organized by the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies, a South Korean think tank.

Kagan also said the Quad has an "open architecture to encourage others to participate and work together to solve real problems, threats and challenges" in the region. The official added that the Quad isn't supposed to be a closed group limited to the four participating countries.

By Hwang Joon-bum, Washington correspondent

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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