Jan 12, 2021
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“We hoped the country would fall”: will the US dialogue with North Korea during the presidency of Joe Biden

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he intends to strengthen the alliance with the United States after Joe Biden came to power. The politician also noted that he does not give up hopes to resume negotiations with the DPRK and achieve a “big breakthrough” both in the relations between Seoul and Pyongyang and in the dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington. Against this background, the DPRK said that contacts with South Korea could be resumed if Seoul abandons military exercises with the United States and stops buying new weapons. At the same time, the DPRK called America their main enemy, hindering the country’s development. Analysts state that Donald Trump’s attempt to resolve the crisis around North Korea has failed. But the Joe Biden administration is unlikely to be able to achieve any success in this direction, experts say.

South Korean President Moon Jae In said he was ready to hold talks with representatives of the DPRK at any time.

“Dialogue and shared prosperity are key drivers of the peace process on the Korean Peninsula. We are still ready to meet for negotiations anytime and anywhere, ”he said.

Moon Jae In noted that Seoul will not abandon its attempts to make progress in resolving the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, however, it intends to strengthen allied ties with the United States after Joe Biden came to power.

“We will strengthen our alliance with the United States after the transition to the Biden administration. At the same time, we are trying to make the last breakthrough in order to achieve a big breakthrough in the stalled talks between North Korea and the United States, as well as in the inter-Korean dialogue, ”the President of the Republic of Korea said.

Earlier, the DPRK criticized South Korea for offering cooperation only in such “non-essential” areas as the fight against coronavirus, the organization of humanitarian aid and tourism. Pyongyang noted that relations with Seoul can be restored if the South Koreans stop conducting military exercises with the United States and purchase new weapons.

According to Yevgeny Kim, a leading researcher at the Center for Korean Studies at the Institute of the Far East, the DPRK’s discontent is well founded.

  • South Korean leader Moon Jae-in
  • © REUTERS / Kim Hong Ji

“South Korea has nothing to offer the DPRK to solve this problem. In Seoul, quite often they say that it is necessary to negotiate, resume cooperation between the parties, but in fact they do nothing. For example, the southerners have repeatedly stated that the railways need to be connected, but after that they did nothing, although the North Korean authorities showed their readiness to cooperate after the first step in this direction was taken by South Korea, “the analyst said in an interview with RT …

Failed discharge

Let us remind you that the United States, North Korea and South Korea have made repeated attempts to normalize the situation on the Korean Peninsula over the past few years. Experts call the absence of a peace treaty between the DPRK and South Korea following the Korean War of 1950-1953 as one of the key factors of tension in this region.

In addition, Pyongyang is unhappy with the fact that US troops are stationed in South Korea: North Korea perceives this as a threat to their security. In turn, South Korea and the United States criticize the DPRK for developing nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles.

In 2018-2019, the United States and the DPRK negotiated at various levels to reduce tensions and normalize relations. One of the main initiators of this process was US President Donald Trump.

As part of these negotiations, the first ever summit of the DPRK and the United States at the highest level was held. In addition, Trump became the first American leader to visit the DPRK – in the summer of 2019, he briefly crossed the demarcation line.

Parallel to this, Pyongyang and Seoul established diplomatic communication and established a liaison office.

However, by the end of 2019, it became clear that negotiations between the United States and the DPRK were deadlocked due to Washington’s unwillingness to weaken the sanctions regime against Pyongyang. Following this, all achievements in the inter-Korean dialogue were gradually canceled out.

  • Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas
  • © REUTERS / Kevin Lamarck

On June 9, the DPRK severed all contacts with South Korea. Pyongyang, through the state-owned Central Telegraph Agency of Korea (CTAC), reported that the reason for this was another action by South Korean nongovernmental organizations that are sending balloons with propaganda leaflets in the direction of the North, allegedly telling about “the truth about the horrors of the Korean War.”

Such actions contradicted the agreements signed in 2018 by Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae In, according to which the mutual launch of balloons with leaflets and radio propaganda were prohibited.

On June 16, the DPRK, which controls the city of Kaesong, which is located less than 50 km from Seoul and is considered one of the main directions for the advancement of DPRK troops to the South in the event of a war, destroyed the building that housed the inter-Korean communications office by blowing up. Shortly thereafter, the North Korean General Staff announced that it would send troops to Kaesong.

At the same time, the DPRK blamed South Korea and the United States for the new escalation of tensions in relations.

Mutual insults

Despite the fact that the process of detente between the United States and the DPRK has stalled, Trump nevertheless still speaks respectfully of Kim Jong-un and avoids harsh criticism of the DPRK, analysts say.

Until recently, President-elect Joe Biden adhered to a different line of behavior. Even during the election campaign in 2019, he criticized Trump’s policy towards the DPRK, and called Kim Jong-un a “tyrant.”

In response, North Korea’s Central Telegraph Agency issued a harsh statement calling Biden a “fool.”

“His words are just the verbal tricks of a fool, devoid of the elementary virtues inherent not even in a politician, but in a simple person,” the CTAC said.

In January 2021, during a party convention in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-un called the United States the main enemy of the DPRK.

“Our foreign policy activity should be focused on suppressing and bringing to its knees the United States – our biggest enemy, which represents the main obstacle to our revolutionary development,” said Kim Jong-un.

At the same time, he noted that the DPRK should not expect an improvement in relations with the United States in the future.

“Whoever is in power in the US, their essence and intentions towards North Korea will never change,” Kim Jong-un said, promising to strengthen ties with “anti-imperialist, independent forces.”

In addition, during his speech at the VIII Party Congress, Kim Jong-un promised to improve the capabilities of delivering preventive and retaliatory nuclear strikes, as well as to increase the level of accuracy in order to hit any strategic targets at a distance of 15 thousand km.

However, according to Yevgeny Kim, the mutual insults exchanged between Biden and the DPRK authorities do not mean at all that in the future the parties will not try to resume the negotiation process.

  • Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump
  • Reuters
  • © KCNA

“At the beginning of Trump’s presidency, they also exchanged insults. But this did not prevent them from subsequently sitting down at the negotiating table. Despite the fact that Trump and Kim Jong-un could not agree at the last meeting, they developed quite good relations, ”the analyst said.

According to Eugene Kim, Trump failed in resolving the crisis on the Korean Peninsula because he was not ready to lift at least part of the sanctions against the DPRK.

“The DPRK authorities planned to take certain disarmament steps simultaneously with the American side. But Trump wanted the DPRK to completely abandon nuclear weapons overnight, after which the United States, perhaps, would remove restrictions from the republic and help the DPRK become an economically developed country, as Trump promised. If Pyongyang had security guarantees from Washington, if hostile activities against the peninsula would be stopped, for example, if the joint exercises of American and South Korean troops would cease, the parties would resolve this issue, ”the analyst said.

The expert of the International Institute for Humanitarian and Political Research, Vladimir Bruter, adheres to a similar point of view.

“Trump failed because he wanted to achieve results without giving anything in return. In turn, the leadership of the DPRK expected guarantees of immunity and security from the United States. Until Washington and Seoul provide guarantees that will suit Pyongyang and indirectly Beijing, there will be no shift in this matter, “the expert said in an interview with RT.

Analysts believe that the Biden administration will try to take into account Trump’s mistakes, but at the same time it is unlikely to repeat the policy of the Barack Obama administration.

“When Biden was vice president of the United States, he fully supported Barack Obama’s policies, which were described as“ strategic patience. ” At that time, the United States was arrogant towards the DPRK, hoping that the country would fall, the regime would be destroyed, after which South Korea would swallow the North. Today the situation has changed: the DPRK has nuclear weapons and missiles that the United States can get. Considering that Biden was a member of the Foreign Policy Committee for a long time, it is hoped that he will assess the situation differently, ”said Yevgeny Kim.

At the same time, experts urge not to expect any breakthroughs in resolving the crisis on the Korean Peninsula in the coming years.

“Biden realizes that if he tries to increase tensions between the DPRK and the United States, the reaction from Pyongyang will be tough. At the same time, he will not be able to reduce tensions between the countries and make concessions, because this will look like weakness on the American side. Most likely, he will try to maneuver between these two states, ”concluded Vladimir Bruter.

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