A White House official said on Monday that U.S. President Joe Biden does not intend to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “I think his approach would be quite different, and that is not his intention,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday to a question asking if Biden’s diplomatic approach to North Korea would include sitting with Kim Jong Un. Kim’s younger sister Kim Yo Jong said on Tuesday that South Korean President Moon Jae-in is extremely shameless as South Korea, which develops ballistic missiles, raises issues for North Korea’s ballistic missile launches.
The comment from the White House is practically an announcement that there will be no surprise Trump-style meeting with the North. President Biden has been criticizing former President Trump for having met with Kim without conditions and legitimized the North. In October last year, President Biden said he will meet with Kim if he agrees to reduce nuclear capabilities. It seems that he confirmed his stance to meet with Kim once discussions on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities have progress as the U.S.’ policies toward North Korea are under final review.
President Biden’s perception of the North Korean issues is rather different from that of President Moon Jae-in. “Kim is willing to denuclearize the country. I will meet with Kim anywhere, anytime,” President Moon said at the New Year’s press conference. Moon is emphasizing North Korea’s determination for denuclearization and suggesting to meet together, while Biden is still suspicious of the North’s willingness for denuclearization.
Such a gap in perception is revealed in the two countries’ responses to North Korea. Kim Yo Jong justified North Korea’s ballistic missile launches by mentioning South Korea’s ballistic missile development. However, this unreasonable. The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1718 to ban North Korea’s test launches of ballistic missiles following the country’s first nuclear tests in 2006. South Korea is not subject to such a resolution. And yet, the Blue House only expressed “regret” without pointing to her sophistry on ballistic missiles. There was no mention of North Korea’s violation of the U.N. Security Council resolution, which is emphasized by the U.S. and Japan.
Under such circumstances, it is unlikely that a unified voice will be achieved at a trilateral security meeting among South Korea, the U.S., and Japan in Washington this week. With differences in response to North Korea’s clear provocations with ballistic missiles, the three countries’ reactions to the North’s nuclear weapons may also encounter disagreements. Remaining meek toward North Korea may bring the weakening of the alliance.