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N.K. nuclear talks will fall behind on U.S. priority list due to Afghan situation: expert

All News 15:59 August 19, 2021

By Yi Wonju

SEOUL, Aug. 19 (Yonhap) -- Nuclear talks with North Korea will fall behind on the priority list of the United States for the next several months as Washington is expected to focus on dealing with the aftermath of its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, an expert said Thursday.

Harry Kazianis, a senior director at the Center for the National Interest think tank, made the point in an online seminar, saying a big crisis involving refugees and abductions could follow the withdrawal of the U.S.' troops from Afghanistan.

"I think it is very clear that (Afghanistan) will be the United States' top national security priority at least for the next few months, and obviously what that will do is push down all other priorities, including North Korea, for at least the next several months," he said.

Also putting the North Korean nuclear issue on the backburner are domestic issues like fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination, Kazianis said. He predicted relations between the U.S. and North Korea are unlikely to be bright in the short to medium-term.

Frank Jannuzi, head of the Mansfield Foundation, also said the North could provoke the U.S. with a new round of muscle-flexing, including deploying a ballistic missile submarine, as Seoul and Washington prepare for elections next year.

"The DPRK may try to exploit this situation, deliberating provoking the U.S. in an effort to undermine alliance solidarity," he said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and the North have been stalled since the Hanoi summit between former President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2019 ended without a deal.

This graphic image shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) and United States President Joe Biden. (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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