Yoshihide- US to brief S. Korea, Japan on policy on North Korea, United States News & Top Stories
WASHINGTON • The United States was due to brief South Korea and Japan yesterday on President Joe Biden‘s long-awaited review of North Korea policy in talks that will also cover concerns about a shortage of semiconductor chips, a senior administration official said.
Mr Biden‘s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will hold a full day of talks with his Japanese counterpart, National Security Secretariat Secretary-General Shigeru Kitamura, and South Korea’s National Security Adviser Suh Hoon at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
It will be the most senior-level meeting between the three allies since Mr Biden took power on Jan 20 and comes against a backdrop of rising tensions after North Korean missile launches last week.
Mr Biden said last week that the US remained open to diplomacy with North Korea despite its ballistic missile tests, but warned that there would be responses if the North escalates matters.
The senior administration official said the Annapolis talks would include discussion of the missile launches, the extent of coronavirus infections within North Korea, and recent diplomacy between Pyongyang and its main ally, Beijing.
“The primary goal is to ensure that we have a deep, shared understanding of circumstances that are taking place on the peninsula, in North Korea,” he told reporters, noting that some reports indicated North Korea has been on a total lockdown due to the pandemic.
The White House has shared little about its review of policy towards North Korea and whether it will offer concessions to get Pyongyang to the negotiating table to discuss giving up its nuclear weapons.
However, State Department spokesman Ned price said on Thursday that denuclearisation would remain at the centre of policy and any approach to Pyongyang will have to be done in lockstep with close allies, including Japan and South Korea.
Mr Biden‘s predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, held three meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but achieved no breakthrough other than a pause in nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
Mr Biden, a Democrat, has sought to engage North Korea in dialogue but has been rebuffed so far.
Pyongyang, which has long sought a lifting of international sanctions over its weapons programmes, said last week that the Biden administration had taken a wrong first step and revealed “deep-seated hostility” by criticising what it called self-defensive missile tests.
The US official said the North Korea review was in its final stages and “we’re prepared now to have some final consultations with Japan and South Korea as we go forward”.
Mr Joseph Yun, who was the US special envoy for the North under both former president Barack Obama and under Mr Trump, said the policy options were obvious: “You want denuclearisation and you want to use your sanctions to get to denuclearisation.
“But how to make the first step, so that at least North Korea is persuaded not to do anything provocative. That’s the challenge.”
Separately, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s visit to the US has been delayed to the middle of this month from a proposed date early this month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said yesterday.
Mr Suga is scheduled to meet Mr Biden on April 16, he said.
“The date has been set to April 16 to take all possible measures that will ensure success of the Prime Minister’s visit to the US,” Mr Kato said. He added that the details of the event and the schedule are being coordinated.
Mr Suga was initially expected to meet Mr Biden next Friday.
He would be the first foreign leader to visit the US since Mr Biden took office.