Top Biden Aide to Meet Asia Allies in Maryland on North Korea
(Bloomberg) -- White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will lay out the emerging U.S. strategy toward North Korea in a meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts on Friday at the U.S. Naval Academy, a senior administration official said.
Sullivan will host National Security Secretariat Secretary General Shigeru Kitamura of Japan and South Korean National Security Adviser Suh Hoon at the academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the official said in a briefing for reporters.
The meeting’s focus will be maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula, but the agenda will also touch on climate change and battling the coronavirus pandemic, the White House said in a statement.
The national security aides will also discuss semiconductors and technology supply chains, according to the official, who asked not to be identified on condition of participation in the briefing.
North Korea recently resumed provocative missile launches, drawing a warning from President Joe Biden.
“There will be responses if they choose to escalate,” Biden said last week at a White House news conference. “We will respond accordingly.”
Any American actions toward North Korea will be taken in coordination with South Korea and Japan, the senior administration official said.
The Sullivan meeting follows a trip by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to the region last month. Friday’s discussion in Maryland should be seen as the first of several conversations, the senior official said.
On Friday, the Japanese government announced that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga planned to meet with Biden in Washington on April 16. It would be the American president’s first face-to-face encounter with a foreign leader since taking office. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Biden has said he is open to diplomacy with North Korea but warned that the recent missile tests violated international rules. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency, closed-door meeting last week to discuss North Korea.
That move came after North Korea fired its first ballistic missiles in a year on March 25, posing an early challenge to the Biden administration.
North Korea said it fired off “a newly developed tactical guided projectile” that “accurately hit the target in the waters 600 kilometers (372 miles) off the east coast of Korea,” according to the country’s official Korean Central News Agency. North Korea also released images of the launch on its state media.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, who has been on hand for many launches, was touring a new housing development, KCNA said in a separate report.
With the missile test, Kim is following a longstanding playbook of feeling out new American presidents in an effort to put North Korea’s interests on the agenda of policy makers in Washington.
‘Our Treaty Allies’
Biden’s predecessor, President Donald Trump, met three times with Kim in an attempt to persuade him to give up his nuclear arsenal, without success. Kim made clear in the talks that he’s open to rolling back parts of Pyongyang’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions, but that he would not entertain giving up the weapons entirely.
“Any approach to North Korea, in order to be effective, will be one that we will have to execute in lockstep with our close allies, including in this case, our treaty allies, Japan and South Korea,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Thursday. “And that’s another reason why it’s so important that these trilateral engagements, continue apace, and you’ll see the next iteration of that tomorrow.”
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