U.S. Trying to Defuse Tensions With North Korea, Also Held Secret Meeting in March

Time to disengage?


Diplomats from the U.S. and North Korea met around the United Nations in New York City last month, just before North Korea's latest round of saber-rattling began. Foreign Policy reports

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No real progress was made during the meeting and no new offers were made by the U.S. officials present, the sources said. The U.S. side simply reiterated the administration's call for North Korea to avoid provocative actions as well as its offer for a return to diplomacy if North Korea recommitted to fulfilling its international obligations and pursuing a path of denuclearization. The North Korean side simply agreed to communicate that information back to Pyongyang.

For outside experts critical of the Obama administration's current approach to North Korea, which is based on the principle of "strategic patience," or waiting for Pyongyang to change its calculus and rejoin multilateral talks, the meeting is only the latest indication that the administration's policy is stagnant.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon canceled a trip by the head of U.S. forces in South Korea as well as a ballistic missile test the U.S. says was not related to North Korea. The Pentagon calls them "prudent measures" meant to help ease tensions on the Korean peninsula, while the UN's Ban Ki-Moon is still warning the situation could spiral out of control (unlikely despite likely incompetents on all sides). Nevertheless, nearly 30,000 U.S. troops remain in Korea. As Gene Healy wrote here earlier today, they need to come home, taking away a crutch both the South and North use to avoid reconciliation and their regional responsibilities.