US Secretary of State Antony Blinken presented the new administration’s fresh approach to North Korea, which has already denounced it, at the Group of Seven’s first in-person talks in two years. With Covid raging in India but gaining control in the West, Britain invited foreign ministers from the G7 club to London to formulate a post-pandemic agenda and plan for a G7 summit next month in southwest England.
The three-day talks will also discuss growing tensions with Russia and China, as well as diplomacy to resurrect a nuclear agreement with Iran. India, South Korea, South Africa, and ASEAN bloc chair Brunei have been invited as guests.
Blinken met separately with the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea at his hotel days after President Joe Biden completed a review of North Korean strategy amid strict anti-Covid measures including movement restrictions.
“We are grateful to have this opportunity to have in-depth discussions with the US following the end of your policy review,” Chung Eui-yong, a South Korean, said, welcoming Biden’s “very constructive and responsive letter” to Congress last week.
Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi “shared their concerns regarding North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes,” according to the State Department. They decided to collaborate with Japan’s former competitor South Korea “towards the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” according to a statement.
Middle path on North Korea
After his predecessor Donald Trump’s extraordinary, highly personalized diplomacy, which included three made-for-television meetings with the authoritarian state’s young leader Kim Jong Un, Biden ordered an evaluation of North Korea’s strategy.
The review suggested a middle ground by moving away from Trump’s bold but ultimately futile attempt to negotiate a broad compromise that could potentially put the Korean War to an end after seven decades. However, the White House has stated that it would negotiate with North Korea, a departure from former President Barack Obama’s strategy of “strategic patience,” or keeping Pyongyang at a distance until its behavior improves.
“Our strategy will not be based on strategic patience or reaching a grand bargain,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday while recognizing that previous administrations have struggled to achieve the objective of ending North Korea’s nuclear programme. North Korea slammed Biden’s approach on Sunday, accusing him of maintaining a “hostile stance” for more than half a century.
“The US-claimed ‘diplomacy’ is a phony cover for its aggressive activities, and the ‘deterrence’ it touts is just a way of presenting nuclear threats to the DPRK,” foreign ministry official Kwon Jong Gun said via state media, referring to North Korea’s official name.
North Korea is known for its colorful comments, including portraying Biden as a “rabid puppy” that “must be beaten to death with a stick” in 2019. US officials expected a vehement response from North Korea. North Korea and Iran will be discussed at a welcome dinner for the Group of Seven foreign ministers. As diplomacy progresses, both the US and the UK have played down rumors that Iran will free their respective nationals held captive.
Britain said negotiations were still ongoing and condemned the “torture” of dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after Iranian state television reported that she could be released after years of detention if the UK paid an old debt. Following the G7, Blinken will travel to Ukraine on Wednesday to show support after Russia deployed but then withdrew 100,000 troops along its border and annexed Crimea last month.