WASHINGTON: Top security officials of the United States, Japan and South Korea will meet on Friday (Apr 2) to discuss next steps on North Korea as President Joe Biden completes a policy review.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, will huddle with his counterparts from South Korea and Japan, Suh Hoon and Shigeru Kitamura, at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Sullivan will share “where we are in terms of our review,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, saying the evaluation was “coming to a conclusion.”
“Denuclearisation will remain at the centre of American policy towards North Korea. We also know that any approach to North Korea, in order to be effective, will be one that we will have to execute in lockstep with our close allies,” Price said.
The Biden administration is looking at how to move forward after former president Donald Trump’s unusually personal diplomacy with North Korea which included three meetings with strongman Kim Jong Un, with whom Trump said he “fell in love”.
Biden has sharply criticised Trump’s meetings, saying he legitimised one of the world’s most ruthless leaders, but has also said he is open to diplomacy.
Biden administration officials are widely expected to support a resumption of lower-level talks rather than high-stakes, high-drama summits.
Biden has also warned North Korea of consequences for violations of Security Council resolutions after Pyongyang recently tested what US officials judged to be ballistic missiles.
The Annapolis talks mark rare in-person diplomacy for the Biden administration amid the pandemic and Sullivan’s first trilateral since taking office.
On a range of issues such as facing a rising China, Biden has put a priority on rallying allies including Japan and South Korea — which, despite their respective treaties with Washington, have historically tense ties with each other.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last month jointly visited both Tokyo and Seoul on their first foreign trips.