Joe Biden appoints new special envoy to address the situation on the Korean peninsula

The presidents of the United States, Joe Biden, and South Korea, Moon Jae-in, held a meeting in which they expressed mutual concern regarding the North Korean nuclear program. In this sense, the head of the White House announced the appointment of Sung Kim, a former US ambassador to Indonesia and South Korea, to lead the new policy in the region.

Joe Biden, who has welcomed two Asian leaders since he assumed the presidency of the United States in January 2021, once again stressed the importance of the situation with North Korea for him. South Korean head of state Moon Jae-in’s visit to Washington allows the new administration to look to territory that has not been forgotten.

After a meeting at the White House, both presidents held a joint press conference in which they agreed to work closely and in a coordinated manner to address the situation. During the meeting, both made it clear that the goal is to achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

“Our partnership is built on a strong commitment to shared security. Our partnership has long been the lynchpin of peace, security, prosperity and the increasingly prominent region,” Biden said.

For his part, Moon – who in the past was accused by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, of being weak – welcomed the United States for his return to the international stage and praised the appointment of Sung Kim as the new special envoy for Korea. from North.

“The most urgent common task, which our two countries must undertake, is to achieve complete denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean peninsula. Recently, the Biden administration concluded the policy review of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) based on past agreements, including the Singapore joint statement (…) I welcome the appointment of Ambassador Sung Kim, Special Representative for Policy of North Korea, by President Biden, which reflects the firm commitment of the United States to explore diplomacy and its readiness for dialogue with North Korea, “said Moon Jae-in during the meeting.

North Korea, a concern for the US government

North Korea, for some years now, has been seen by western countries and the region as a threat. This tension has increased since 2009, when the North Korean administration announced the development of a nuclear weapons program that was intensified under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, successor to Kim Jong-il.

However, and after years of international blockade and sanctions, North Korea showed a certain openness to the world. First, in 2018, the meeting between the two Koreas took place, where Kim became the first North Korean leader to visit the south, which served as a prelude to the rapprochement that North Korea would later have with the United States.

Donald Trump, who for much of his term had disqualified Kim Jong-un as a ‘rocket man’, agreed to Kim’s invitations to two meetings, in Singapore and Vietnam, but without reaching significant agreements.

People watch a newscast showing a recording of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that took place in the village of Panmunjom,
People watch a newscast showing a recording of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that took place in the village of Panmunjom, © Jung Yeon-je / AFP

During the meeting with Moon Jae-in, Joe Biden acknowledged that he is willing to meet with Kim Jong-un, this being a turn from what was raised in March when he did not show commitment to reach an agreement, but admitted that there is a certain distance between Washington and Pyongyang.

“The meeting must take place under certain conditions, that there is a discussion about its nuclear arsenal (…) It would not do what has been done in the recent past; it would not give it everything it is looking for: international recognition. It would not allow it to advance in the direction to seem more serious about what it isn’t, “Biden said.

Moon, during the last year of his presidency, has shown a desire to reactivate peace negotiations with North Korea. His past diplomatic effort was stalled after failed summits between Kim and Trump in the past.

Taiwan, vaccines and the environment, other topics at the meeting

In the bilateral meeting, both leaders discussed China and Taiwan, after the latter denounced some pressure from Beijing after the incursion of planes in the air defense identification zone of Taiwan, a territory that China claims as its own.

On the other hand, Biden assured that the United States would provide complete vaccines against Covid-19 to some 550,000 South Korean service personnel working with US forces. South Korea has been one of the nations that seeks to ensure the supply of vaccines that the United States has recently allowed to export.

Finally, Biden used the meeting to pressure South Korea to adopt a more ambitious goal of reducing carbon emissions by 2030. Similarly, he urged Seoul to do more to counter China’s growing influence. in the Indo-Pacific region.

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