Monday, January 24, 2022

Biden’s first North Korea policy expected ‘in next month or so’

North Korea will be among the topics discussed at a first summit of the Quad group of nations on Friday.

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The Biden administration’s review of its policy towards North Korea is expected to be completed “within the next month or so”, a senior official of the administration told Reuters on Tuesday while declining to say what direction it might take.

The new administration, which took office in January, announced the review following former president Donald Trump’s unprecedented engagement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

However, the growing rapport between the two failed to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

“We are involved and engaged in a highly intense strategic review. Our expectations are that it will be done in within the next month or so,” the official said, adding that the US officials involved in the review had been engaged with diplomacy in one manner or other since the mid-1990s.

Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the approach to North Korea could involve more sanctions or unspecified diplomatic incentives.

“Our expectations are probably very much shaped by previous experiences,” he said, while noting “some interesting dynamics about the previous period”.

“I think we want to explore a variety of different things,” he said without elaborating.

Officials said North Korea would be among the topics discussed at a first summit of the Quad group of nations – the US, Japan, India and Australia, on Friday.

It will also be a topic when Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin visit Japan and South Korea later this month.

The Pentagon expressed concern last week about a UN report indicating possible preprocessing of nuclear fuel for bombs by North Korea, and said such activity could raise tensions with Pyongyang.

A confidential UN report seen by Reuters last month said North Korea developed its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes throughout 2020.

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