By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) -- Resuming humanitarian assistance for North Korea may send a good message to the communist state to be patient while it may also enhance joint efforts by South Korea and the United States to denuclearize the North, a former U.S. diplomat said Friday.
The remarks from Kurt Campbell, former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, were made in a meeting with three visiting South Korean lawmakers.
"Sending a message to North Korea to be patient through humanitarian assistance is a good idea," Campbell was quoted as telling the South Korean lawmakers, led by Rep. Song Young-gil of the ruling Democratic Party.
The former U.S. diplomat also insisted U.S. President-elect Joe Biden may do so, adding "such an approach may also be a chance to further strengthen the joint efforts of South Korea and the United States," according to the South Korean delegation.
International support for the communist North has nearly been halted amid a wide range of U.S. and U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed on the North for its military provocations that have so far included six nuclear tests and a series of long-range missile launches.
Pyongyang has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing since November 2017, but the international sanctions remain intact amid stalled denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea.
Biden, however, is widely expected to consider resuming U.S. assistance for North Korean people when he is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
"On humanitarian assistance, certainly Vice President Biden supports providing such assistance to North Korean people who've suffered for many years under successive Kim regimes," Brian McKeon, a key foreign policy adviser to Biden, said in an exclusive, pre-election interview with Yonhap News Agency.
"So, we'd certainly want to look at working within the existing sanctions framework to make sure that humanitarian assistance can get through into North Korea and make it easier for international humanitarian organizations to deliver these items, but not funneled into the pockets of the leadership," he had said.
Many observers and experts here have highlighted the need for the new Biden administration to quickly send a message to North Korea, which they believe will likely seek to test the incoming U.S. administration with provocations.
"It is entirely possible that we could see a missile test or other provocation. Pyongyang will look for opportunities to strengthen its position and drive wedges as Biden seeks to shore up alliance relationships in Asia and manage a fraught relationship with an assertive China," Kathleen Stephens, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, said earlier.
"I hope they will be patient, and keep their options open," she has said.
The South Korean lawmakers underscored the need for the Biden administration to quickly come up with a North Korea policy.
"The issue we are facing now is to help the Biden administration, so it can swiftly undertake its North Korea policy review," Rep. Song said in a press release.
"Should the Biden administration learn from the previous administration's experience and improve, it will help reduce a significant amount of time than starting from the scratch," added Song.
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