Biden administration to pursue 'practical' North Korea nuclear diplomacy

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Marisa Schultz
·2 min read
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The White House Friday confirmed the Biden Administration has completed a months-long review of North Korea policy and will chart a different path than former President Donald Trump in an effort to end North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.

"I can confirm that we've completed our DPRK policy review, which was thorough, rigorous and inclusive," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday, referring to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The Washington Post first reported Friday that the Biden Administration wants to find a "middle" ground between Trump's grand bargain strategy where he courted face-to-face diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jon Un and former President Barack Obama's arms-length approach where he withheld diplomacy until North Korea changed its behavior.

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Psaki said Biden's team consulted with outside experts and officials from "several previous administrations" to build on their lessons learned.

"Our goal remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, with a clear understanding that the efforts of the past four administrations have not achieved this objective," Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One. "Our policy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain, nor will it rely on strategic patience."

Paski said the Biden approach will "explore diplomacy" with North Korea in an effort to make "practical" progress toward achieving denuclearization and increasing the security of the United States and its allies.

"Our policy calls for a calibrated, practical approach," Psaki said.

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The new policy approach is timely, as Biden is set to welcome South Korean President Moon Jae-in to the White House on May 21 to highlight their "ironclad alliance," the White House says. Biden's first in-person foreign leader invite went to another Asian ally, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

The Washington Post first reported Friday that the Biden Administration decided to pursue a phased agreement with North Korea that leads to full denuclearization. Biden was briefed on the plan last week by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the paper reported.

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The Biden administration won't throw out all of Trump's work, The Washington Post reported. They'll keep in place Trump's 2018 Singapore summit agreement in which Kim committed to work toward the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" in return for the U.S. providing "security guarantees" to North Korea. Both sides also pledged to "build a lasting and stable peace regime."