| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

Biden, South Korea’s Moon express willingness to engage North Korea

U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in issued a new urgency on Friday to try to engage North Korea’s nuclear arms dialog with Biden saying that under the right conditions, it would meet with its leader Kim Jong Un.

Biden and Moon said their aim was the full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Biden stressing that he was “under no illusion” of North Korea’s difficulty in renouncing its nuclear arsenals following failure of its predecessors.

“We both are deeply concerned about the situation,” Biden said at a joint news conference, adding that he and Moon shared a willingness to engage diplomatically with the North and “to take pragmatic steps to reduce tensions.”

North Korea has rebuffed U.S. entreaties for diplomacy since Biden took over from Donald Trump, who had three summits with Kim and famously exchanged “beautiful letters” with the third-generation leader.

Kim refused to give up his nuclear weapons but did impose a freeze on testing them. He has not tested a nuclear bomb nor launched an inter-continental ballistic missile since 2017, although experts believe his arsenal has steadily grown.

Biden said he would be willing to meet Kim under the right conditions – if he agreed to discuss his nuclear program and that his advisers first met with their North Korean counterparts to lay the groundwork.

“I would not do what had been done in the recent past; I would not give him all he’s looking for – international recognition as legitimate and allow him to move in the direction of appearing to be more … serious about what he wasn’t at all serious about.”

Biden’s comments appeared to reflect a shift in his thinking given that the White House said in March it was not his intention to meet with Kim.


Biden appointed veteran State Department official Sung Kim as special U.S. envoy for North Korea.

South Korea had been pushing for the appointment of an envoy, and Moon, for whom engagement with North Korea is a legacy issue before he leaves office next year, said Sung Kim would help explore whether North Korea is willing to engage diplomatically. He said he expected a positive response.

Sung Kim is a Korean-American diplomat who served as special envoy for North Korea under President Barack Obama and helped set up Trump’s summits with Kim Jong Un.

Jenny Town of 38 North, a Washington-based North Korea project, said Sung Kim’s appointment was positive after the administration had signaled it was in no hurry to fill the post.

  • Reuters