On North Korea, Biden to chart his own course

North Korea

White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested the administration would seek a middle ground between Trump's "grand bargain" and Obama's "strategic patience" approaches.

Last week, Biden, in his first address to Congress, called North Korea and Iran's nuclear programs "a serious threat to America's security and world security", and said he'll work with allies to address those problems through diplomacy and stern deterrence.

On Friday, the United States said that it will continue to engage in negotiations with North Korea with the aim to completely denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and will not look for a "grand bargain". Psaki said officials consulted outside experts, allies and predecessors from several previous administrations as part of the process.

Psaki reaffirmed that the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula remains the policy goal, noting "the efforts of the past four administrations have not achieved this objective".

North Korea, so far, has refused diplomatic entreaties from the Biden administration.

North Korea on Sunday warned the United States will face "a very grave situation" because President Joe Biden "made a big blunder" in his recent speech by calling the North a security threat and revealing his intent to maintain a hostile policy toward it.

The Biden administration has simultaneously signaled a hard line on human rights, denuclearization and sanctions, while making diplomatic overtures that officials say have been rebuffed by Pyongyang, which has long demanded sanctions relief.

The law was fiercely debated during a video conference hearing called by USA lawmakers this month, where critics denounced it as an attack on democratic freedoms and efforts to break North Korea's information blockade.

She added that the USA would continue to consult with the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan, and other allies and partners on this issue.

The strategy will also be a major topic of conversation when Biden hosts South Korean President Moon Jae-In at the White House on May 21. North Korea launched two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea near Japan in March.

Denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington have stalled since the summit talks between Kim and Trump ended fruitless at the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi in February 2019.

A separate foreign ministry statement said previous comments criticising North Korea's human rights situation insulted the dignity of leader Kim Jong-un and showed the USA is "girding itself up for an all-out showdown". "If, on the other hand, Kim shuns diplomacy and opts for provocative tests, Washington will likely expand sanctions enforcement and military exercises with allies". In an interview last week with The New York Times, Moon said the USA should sit down with North Korea to move toward a nuclear deal.

During the trip, Blinken sternly criticized North Korea's nuclear program and human rights record and pressed China to use its "tremendous influence" to convince the North to denuclearize.

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