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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on April 30)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:03 April 30, 2021

Diplomacy and deterrence
Question is how to lure North Korea back to dialogue

U.S. President Joe Biden has reaffirmed his position on how to deal with threats from North Korea and Iran. He has stressed the importance of diplomacy and deterrence to better respond to such threats by stepping up cooperation with America's allies.

In his address to a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, Biden called the nuclear programs of Pyongyang and Tehran a "serious threat" to America and the world. "We are going to be working closely with our allies to address the threats posed by both of these countries through diplomacy, as well as stern deterrence," Biden said a day before marking his 100th day in office.

Such remarks from Biden are nothing new. Yet they are noteworthy as he is in the final stage of drawing up his North Korea policy after conducting a review on the country, which is balking at abandoning its nuclear weapons program. By focusing on diplomacy, he is apparently trying to send a message to not only North Korea but also Iran that the U.S. is ready to resume dialogue with them to find diplomatic solutions.

At the same time, Biden is seeking to send a warning to them that they should refrain from any provocative acts. By using the expression "stern deterrence," he has made it clear that the U.S. will not sit idly by if North Korea or Iran flex their military muscles. They should take seriously what Biden said and return to negotiations sooner rather than later.

Biden's foreign policy is based on multilateralism, a major shift from the unilateralism of his predecessor, Donald Trump. Since his inauguration, the U.S. president has pledged to strengthen America's alliances with other countries, advocate democratic values and restore the U.S.'s global leadership. As he pointed out, the U.S. cannot go it alone in dealing with global issues, including terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, pandemics and cybersecurity.

One such matter is the North Korean nuclear program. Trump failed to achieve the denuclearization of the North, although he held a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June 2018 in Singapore. His top-down approach fell apart when their second meeting in Hanoi in February 2019 ended without a deal. This shows how difficult it is to make real progress in prodding the Kim regime to move toward peace.

Against this backdrop, Biden is certain to take a new approach which is very different from that of Trump. His North Korea policy is expected to be finalized before he has a summit with President Moon Jae-in in Washington next month. Biden and Moon should have closer consultations and coordination to map out a new strategy to push for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the North.

Yet the question is how to lure the recalcitrant North back to dialogue. The Kim regime has shown no signs of accepting any peace overtures from Seoul or Washington. We hope the upcoming Moon-Biden summit will be an occasion to cement the bilateral alliance and restart stalled denuclearization talks with Pyongyang.

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