Biegun: Diplomacy ‘only way’ to solve issues with North Korea

Seoul, Dec 10 (efe-epa).- The United States’ Deputy Secretary of State, Stephen Biegun, on Thursday defended diplomacy as the “best” and “only way” to resolve conflict on the Korean Peninsula and encouraged Pyongyang to resume dialog with Washington.

“As we look to the future, I remain convinced that diplomacy remains the best course, indeed the only course, to solving our challenges with North Korea,” Biegun said in a speech given in Seoul.

“Pyongyang has some pivotal events coming up, in particular the eighth party congress in January. We strongly encourage North Korea to use the time between now and then to set a path for the resumption of diplomacy,” he added, according to Yonhap news agency.

Many believe that the Workers’ Party congress to be held at the end of January was scheduled purposely by the North Korean regime to coincide with the arrival of US president-elect, Joe Biden, to the White House.

Biden has not yet clarified how he intends to handle the situation with Pyongyang, which in turn has not commented on the victory of the Democrat in the November presidential election.

In any case, the US president-elect has spoken of holding a summit with leader Kim Jong-un under certain conditions, a stance that might not initially satisfy Pyongyang.

In that sense, Biegun, who is making what is probably his last visit to South Korea before the change of government in Washington, expressed his desire that the North and the US enter into “serious diplomacy that requires sustained engagement and difficult tradeoffs but has huge rewards.”

The deputy secretary of state also regretted that the dialog has been stalled since the 2019 Hanoi summit – in which Washington considered the nuclear assets that Pyongyang offered to dismantle in exchange for lifting of sanctions insufficient – and accused the regime of missing opportunities.

“Regrettably, much opportunity has been squandered by our North Korean counterparts over the past two years, who too often have devoted themselves to the search for obstacles to negotiations instead of seizing opportunities for engagement,” he said.

Biegun returns to the US on Saturday. EFE-EPA


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