WASHINGTON – The Biden administration quietly addressed the North Korean government in February but has not yet received a response, a senior administrative official confirmed on Saturday.
The move will take place after four years The Trump administration is turbulent, hot-cold diplomacy with the withdrawn nuclear-armed nation.
“In order to reduce the risk of an escalation, we contacted the North Korean government through several channels from mid-February, including in New York,” the government official told USA TODAY. The contacts were first reported by Reuters and CNN.
“To date, we have not received a response from Pyongyang,” said the official, who noted that after more than a year of no active US-North Korean dialogue, it came “despite multiple attempts by the US to get involved.”
Former President Donald Trump began his tenure with North Korea’s public threat “Fire and fury” before moving on to a zippy diplomatic opening aimed at convincing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up his country’s nuclear arsenal.
Although Trump met with Kim three times in person, the unprecedented summits never resulted in any concrete agreement. North Korea continued to expand its nuclear and conventional weapons program during Trump’s four-year tenure.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden blew up Trump’s meeting with Kim as “Photo Ops” To describe it as a “vanity project” that gave the ruthless dictator undeserved legitimacy without making concessions.
The Biden administration is in the midst of a review of US policy towards North Korea, including an assessment “of all options available to address North Korea’s increasing threat to its neighbors and the wider international community,” the government official said on Saturday. The review could take place in the coming weeks.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken traveled to Asia on his first diplomatic trip as Biden’s chief diplomat. North Korea will be a major item on his agenda when he meets with representatives in South Korea and Japan, two key allies in the region.
“Our commitment to competing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula … has not changed,” Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Sung Kim told reporters on Friday during a briefing about Blinkens’ trip.