San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

Biden to set new tack on policies with Pyongyang

- By Aamer Madhani and Matthew Lee Aamer Madhani and Matthew Lee are Associated Press writers.

WASHINGTON — The White House says President Biden plans to veer from the approaches of his two most recent predecesso­rs as he tries to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, rejecting both Donald Trump’s deeply personal effort to win over Kim Jong Un and Barack Obama’s more handsoff approach.

Press secretary Jen Psaki said administra­tion officials had completed a review of U.S. policy toward North Korea, seen as one of the greatest and most vexing national security threats facing the United States and its allies. Psaki did not detail findings of the review, but suggested Friday that the administra­tion would seek a middle ground between Trump’s “grand bargain” and Obama’s “strategic patience” approaches.

“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 said.

The administra­tion announced it would conduct the review soon after Biden took office in January. Psaki said officials consulted outside experts, allies and predecesso­rs from several previous administra­tions as part of the process.

“Our policy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain, nor will it rely on strategic patience,” she said.

Biden, like his former boss Obama, has confirmed that he sees North Korea as perhaps the most delicate foreign policy quandary for the United States and its allies. But Psaki’s comments suggest distancing from Obama’s dualtrack policy that kept engagement open for its good behavior while seeking to impose sanctions for its bad behavior.

The Biden administra­tion also appeared to signal it is trying to set the stage for incrementa­l progress, in which denucleari­zation steps by the North would be met with correspond­ing actions, including sanctions relief, from the U.S. There was no mention of U.S. security guarantees for North Korea or a formal end to the Korean War, both of which had been demanded by the

North and considered by the Trump team as part of a larger package.

The Biden administra­tion is expected to be focused less on developing rapport with Kim and more on consulting with Japan and South Korea, both of which had looked askance at Trump’s attempts to cultivate Kim as a friend or elevate him to the level of an internatio­nal statesman.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to discuss the outlines of the policy review and emerging strategy when he meets this week in London with his counterpar­ts from the Group of Seven industrial­ized democracie­s, an organizati­on that includes a number of NATO allies as well as Japan. South Korea and Australia are attending the meeting as guests.

The strategy will also be a major topic of conversati­on when Biden hosts South Korean President Moon JaeIn at the White House on May 21. Moon will the second foreign leader to visit Biden in Washington, following the midApril visit by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Biden administra­tion officials have been consulting with Trump administra­tion officials who took part in the Singapore talks between Kim and Trump in June 2018 as well as a second meeting in February 2019.

The last facetoface talks between senior officials from the two countries were held in Sweden in October 2019, and efforts by the Biden administra­tion to resume a dialogue have been rebuffed.

North Korea fired shortrange missiles in March, just days after the sister of Kim Jong Un threatened the United States and South Korea for holding joint military exercises. Those tests were not prohibited under United Nations sanctions.

Days later, the North fired two shortrange ballistic missiles into the sea in defiance of U.N. resolution­s that ban such launches by North Korea.

The missile launches followed a trip by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Japan and South Korea last month as Washington pushes to restore its alliances in Asia.

 ?? Susan Walsh / Associated Press 2019 ?? Former President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitari­zed Zone with South Korea in June 2019.
Susan Walsh / Associated Press 2019 Former President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitari­zed Zone with South Korea in June 2019.

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