South Korea’s national security advisor Suh Hoon spoke with his U.S. counterpart Jake Sullivan over the phone on Tuesday and discussed the ongoing North Korea policy review by the Biden administration, according to Cheong Wa Dae. With top government officials of the two countries, including foreign ministers, special representatives for North Korea policy, and national security advisors having talks with one another in recent weeks, Seoul and Washington appear to be in the process of coordinating the new North Korea policy of the Biden administration, which is expected to be released around April or May.
Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kang Min-seok said on Tuesday that Mr. Suh and Mr. Sullivan shared their assessment of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the ongoing review of U.S. policy toward North Korea for an hour, adding the two reaffirmed their commitment to coordinating closely to achieve denuclearization and a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. The top national security advisors of the two countries appreciated the fact that close communication is being maintained between the two countries at each level, including the National Security Council (NSC), and agreed to have face-to-face talks as soon as possible, taking into account the COVID-19 situation, Cheong Wa Dae said. The two had their first phone call on Jan. 23, immediately after U.S. President Joe Biden took office on Jan. 20.
The White House also issued a statement regarding the phone call, saying the top security advisors “reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-ROK Alliance, their shared commitment to coordinate closely on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.” It went on to say the two “conferred on a variety of shared foreign policy priorities including addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and combating climate change.”
Considering that Mr. Suh and Mr. Sullivan spoke for about an hour, there are speculations that the two may have discussed on a variety of issues, including disagreements between Washington and Seoul over North Korea policy. While the Moon Jae-in administration, which has a year left before leaving office, wants to resume U.S.-North Korea negotiations as soon as possible, the Biden administration plans to bring North Korea back to negotiating table based on a strategy of deterrence and sanctions against North Korea. A diplomatic source said it would take two to three months for Washington to complete its ongoing review of its policy toward North Korea, which is aimed at adopting a “new strategy” on North Korea.
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