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White House Says It Is Open To Diplomacy With North Korea

Commuters watch a TV with images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Biden at a Seoul, South Korea, rail station in March.
Ahn Young-joon
Commuters watch a TV with images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Biden at a Seoul, South Korea, rail station in March.

The White House has completed a review of its policy on North Korea, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday, saying that while the aim of the U.S. remains denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the Biden administration is open to diplomatic talks to boost security for the region.

"Our policy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain nor will it rely on strategic patience," Psaki said. "Our policy calls for a calibrated practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with the DPRK and to make practical progress that increases the security of the United States, our allies, and deployed forces."

The U.S. relationship with North Korea, while deeply strained, expanded under former President Donald Trump. In 2018, Trump and North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un held the first face-to-face meeting between leaders of the two nations. The following year, Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to step foot in North Korea.

Despite the historic meetings between Trump and the North Korean ruler, discussions over denuclearization stalled, and an agreement for the volatile nation to halt its nuclear program dissolved.

As part of the administration's review of North Korea policy, Biden's team consulted with predecessors from previous administrations as well as South Korean and Japanese counterparts, according to Psaki.

The end of the White House review comes as South Korean President Moon Jae-in is set to visit the White House on May 21. In an interview last week with The New York Times, Moon said the U.S. should sit down with North Korea to move toward a nuclear deal.

"The most important starting point for both governments is to have the will for dialogue and to sit down face to face at an early date," Moon told the paper.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.