Diplomatic dance or confrontation? North Korea and the United States follow a cautious line By Reuters

Saudi crown prince meets with US presidential adviser Kushner: state news agency

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: National flags of the United States and North Korea are seen at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island in Singapore.

By Josh Smith SEOUL (Reuters) – While North Korea’s barrage of complaints about US President Joe Biden‘s policies over the weekend may appear to be increasing tensions, some signs suggest that Pyongyang has not ruled out diplomacy with him. new team in Washington. Few observers expect the talks to resume anytime soon, both countries are more focused on issues such as the coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath, and there are no easy ways to resolve their thorniest differences. But some analysts say that despite its bluster, North Korea does not appear to have completely closed the door on the Biden administration just yet. “There are signs that Washington and Pyongyang are in the early and cautious stages of a diplomatic dance,” the US-based 38 North program, which monitors North Korea, said in a report on Monday. On Sunday, North Korea issued a series of official statements criticizing Biden’s policies and rhetoric insofar as more of the same Cold War-style hostilities embraced by previous American presidents, and dismissed speaking of diplomacy as an attempt. to cover up these threatening policies. The remarks came after the White House said on Friday that officials had concluded a policy review in which complete denuclearization of North Korea remained the goal. He said he would explore diplomacy to that end, but would not seek a big deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. While North Korea mentioned the review, it did not specifically respond to the few details that have been released, a signal that some analysts interpreted as evidence that Pyongyang is withholding the trial for now. North Korea’s remarks came from low-level Foreign Ministry officials, they did not call or insult Biden by name, and threats of a “worse crisis” were still conditional on US actions, 38 North noted. . “It would not be a surprise if both sides use this initial period to probe and take a position,” the report says. Republican Donald Trump held three summit meetings with Kim in an attempt to persuade the North Korean leader to hand over his nuclear arsenal, but failed to make any major breakthroughs. The talks have stalled since 2019, and North Korea says it has no interest in the negotiations if the United States does not abandon hostile policies, including tough economic sanctions. Just days before Biden took office, North Korea’s Kim called for more advanced nuclear weapons, calling the United States “our greatest enemy.” North Korea has continued to conduct a series of short-range missile tests and develop new weapons, but since 2017 it has not yet resumed launches of its longer-range missiles or test nuclear bombs, which would be seen as a major challenge for Biden. . “The concern was that North Korea would do something so provocative that the Biden administration would have no room for diplomacy,” said John Delury, a professor at South Korea’s Yonsei University. “But both sides are avoiding getting angry at each other. They could be insulting each other, but they are not.” Rachel Minyoung Lee of 38 North, a former North Korea open source analyst for the US government, told Reuters it was notable that North Korea did not consistently publish its official statements about the Biden administration in the media. nationals. “It indicates that Pyongyang is keeping its political options open,” he said. The Biden administration simultaneously drew a hard line on human rights, denuclearization and sanctions, while also making diplomatic proposals that US officials say have been rejected by Pyongyang. US officials have stressed that they are seeking “practical” diplomatic objectives and are open to talks, but say the ball is in North Korea’s court. “We have … a very clear policy that focuses on diplomacy and I think it is up to North Korea to decide whether or not it wants to participate on that basis,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday. Even if both sides wanted to bet on diplomacy, the ongoing pandemic may make an already difficult process nearly impossible for the near future, Delury said. “The COVID situation really limits diplomatic options and puts both parties in a waiting pattern,” he said.