The United States has been engaging in back-channel diplomacy with North Korea for several months, the Associated Press reported on Friday, as President Donald Trump stepped up his warnings to Pyongyang amid rising tensions in the region.
This is as Democrats are railing against the President’s tough language and the lack of diplomatic talks. The President is being harshly criticized by the left and liberal Republicans like John McCain while Kim Jong Un explains how he’s preparing to blow up Guam.
The dialogue is between Joseph Yun, the U.S. envoy for North Korea policy, and Pak Song Il, a senior North Korean diplomat at the United Nations, the AP reported, citing unidentified U.S. officials and others briefed on the process, according to Star.com.
The talks focused on Americans imprisoned in the communist dictatorship and fraying relations between the long-time foes, The Associated Press reported.
The two sides had discussions to secure the June release of an American university student, who arrived back home in a coma and later died.
But it wasn’t known until now that the contacts have continued, or that they have broached matters other than US detainees.
The Associated Press reported the communications largely serve as a way to exchange messages, allowing Washington and Pyongyang to relay information.”
Yun is the only US diplomat in contact with any North Korean counterpart and the communications allow Washington and Pyongyang to relay information.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praised Yun directly during a recent discussion of U.S. efforts to handle the crisis.
“We’re trying to convey to the North Koreans we are not your enemy, we are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond,” he said last week. “I’m quite proud of what we’ve accomplished. In dealing with North Korea, Acting Assistant Secretary Susan Thornton and Ambassador Joseph Yun have been stellar in helping us develop these policies and carry them out.”
Yun’s duties as the State Department’s point person for North Korea have taken him throughout the region and to Russia, as he worked to assemble international consensus on how to confront the region.
China is no friend
China has made their position clear. One can glean from recent reporting in their state newspaper that they like North Korea possessing nukes and threatening the U.S. but if North Korea actually attacks the U.S., they will remain neutral. Under this scenario, North Korea is allowed to get their first shot and keep their nukes.
The U.S. has said we cannot accept a nuclear North Korea.
A Chinese state paper outlined China’s stance should war break out between the U.S. and North Korea. China should “stay neutral” if North Korean military threatens the U.S., but China should move to block the U.S. if it moves in a pre-emptive strike to alter the status quo on the Korean Peninsula.
“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” the state-run Global Times said in an op-ed, according to Reuters.