ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
N Korea at crossroads

North Korea wasted chance to improve ties under Trump: US envoy

Stephen Biegun says he will urge his successors to continue engagement

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, pictured in Seoul, South Korea in July, says North Korea squandered an opportunity to fundamentally reinvent its relationship with the United States during Donald Trump's presidency.   © Reuters

SEOUL (Reuters) -- Pyongyang squandered an opportunity to fundamentally reinvent its relationship with the United States during Donald Trump's presidency, Washington's top North Korea envoy said on Thursday, adding he will urge his successors to continue engagement.

Speaking to a think tank in Seoul during a visit to meet with South Korean security officials, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun admitted he was disappointed denuclearisation negotiations had stalled and that more progress was not made during his time leading those efforts.

"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, according to his prepared remarks.

Still, he defended Trump's decision to focus on top-level diplomacy with leader Kim Jong Un, and to eschew small steps in favor of seeking a major agreement under which North Korea would surrender its nuclear weapons and the two sides would normalize relations.

"This vision was a bold one, and it made the many advocates of incrementalism uncomfortable," Biegun said.

After trading insults and nuclear threats that had pushed their countries to the brink of war, Trump and Kim met for the first time in Singapore in 2018, where they signed a general declaration calling for denuclearisation and new relations between the two old adversaries.

After working-level talks Biegun helped lead, the two leaders held their second meeting in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi in 2019 but failed to reach a deal.

Subsequent talks failed to make progress and Pyongyang has rebuffed Biegun's calls for more engagement, saying the U.S. does not appear serious about dropping its hostile policies.

Biegun called for North Korea to resume talks in the coming months.

With Democratic president-elect Joe Biden due to replace Trump in January, Biegun said he had a message for the incoming team: "The war is over; the time for conflict has ended, and the time for peace has arrived."

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends January 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more