A senior Biden administration official told Reuters on Saturday, March 13, that North Korea has not communicated to behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts by the Biden administration since mid-February.

The previously unknown U.S. outreach raises concerns about how Biden will deal with rising tensions with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, Reuters said.

It also broad a trip by America’s top diplomat and defense secretary to South Korea and Japan next week, where questions about North Korea’s nuclear arsenal are expected to top the agenda.

On condition of anonymity, a senior Biden administration official provided few information on the diplomatic drive. However, the official stated that attempts to contact the North Korean government had been made “through several channels starting in mid-February, including in New York.”

“To date, we have not received any response from Pyongyang,” the official said.

The U.S. official refused to comment about how Pyongyang’s silence would affect the Biden administration’s North Korea policy review, which was due to be finished in the coming weeks.

During his campaign, Biden called Kim Jong Un a “thug” and said he would only meet with him “on the condition that he would agree that he would be drawing down his nuclear capacity.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the possibility of additional sanctions, in coordination with allies, to press North Korea to denuclearize.

Sanctions have so far failed to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear weapons.

Blinken is scheduled to host the first face-to-face discussions between senior Biden administration officials and Chinese officials in Alaska on March 18. Trump’s administration accused the CCP of failing to enforce sanctions against North Korea. A confidential U.N. report found that North Korea maintained and developed its nuclear and ballistic missile programs throughout 2020 in violation of international sanctions, helping to fund some $300 million stolen through cyberhacks.

The Independent Sanctions Monitoring Report stated that Pyongyang “produced fissile material, maintained nuclear installations and upgraded its ballistic missile infrastructure” while continuing to seek equipment and technology for these programs from abroad.

 

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