White House completes North Korea policy review

Washington: The Biden administration said Friday it has completed a review of US policy toward North Korea and suggested it has limited hopes of brokering a grand bargain to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons programme.

The administration said it would conduct the review soon after Biden took office in January as it sought to gauge the path forward following former President Donald Trump's engagement efforts with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which failed to persuade Pyongyang to de-nuclearise.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced the completion of the review but did not offer details on the findings. She said Biden administration officials consulted outside experts, allies and predecessors from several previous administrations as part of the process.

Our goal remains the complete de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula with a clear understanding that the efforts of the past four administrations have not achieved this objective, Psaki told reporters on Air Force One as Biden travelled to Philadelphia.

Our policy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain, nor will it rely on strategic patience, she said. Instead, the administration will take a practical approach that will explore diplomacy with North Korea and aim for practical progress to increase the security of the U.S. and its allies.

Biden, like his old boss Barack Obama, has confirmed that he sees North Korea as perhaps the most delicate foreign policy quandary for the United States and its allies. But Psaki's suggestion that the administration won't rely on strategic patience in its approach suggests that Biden may be shifting toward a more middle-ground approach between that of Obama and Trump's deeply personal effort to persuade Kim to denuclearize for sanctions relief.

Biden administration officials have been consulting with Trump administration officials who took part in the Singapore talks between Kim and Trump in June 2018 as well as a second meeting in February 2019.

The last face-to-face talks between senior officials from the two countries were held in Sweden in October 2019, and efforts by the Biden administration to resume a dialogue have been rebuffed.

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