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N Korea at crossroads

US to start policy review on North Korea in consultation with allies

Nuclear and ballistic missile activities a 'serious threat', says Press Secretary Psaki

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Jan. 22.    © Reuters

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden plans to start a "thorough" review of the country's policy on North Korea, in consultation with allies such as Japan, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

Calling North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile activities a "serious threat" to international peace and security, she said at a press conference, "We obviously still have a vital interest in deterring North Korea."

"We will adopt a new strategy to keep the American people and our allies safe. That approach will begin with a thorough policy review of the state of play in North Korea in close consultation with South Korea, Japan and other allies on ongoing pressure options and the potential for any future diplomacy," Psaki added.

Biden's predecessor Donald Trump engaged in unprecedented summit diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, meeting him three times in 2018 and 2019 in hopes of convincing the secretive country to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

But negotiations made little progress, with the two countries at odds over issues such as the degree of sanctions relief Pyongyang should receive for denuclearization steps.

During his election campaign, Biden, the 78-year-old former vice president under the Barack Obama administration, criticized Trump for legitimizing North Korea through the summit meetings.

Biden has also called the North Korean leader a "thug" and said that Trump's diplomacy has resulted in North Korea having "much more capable missiles, able to reach U.S. territory much more easily than they ever did before."

Meanwhile, asked whether Biden is considering rejoining a Pacific free trade pact originally known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Psaki signaled the administration's reluctance to prioritize the issue anytime soon.

"President Biden knows TPP wasn't perfect and believes we need to make it stronger and better, but at this point...our focus and his focus as it relates to the economy is on doing everything we can to advance working families and the American middle class. And so that will be his focus in the coming months," she said.

Trump withdrew from the trade deal shortly after taking office in 2017, citing concerns about U.S. job losses. Japan and the other 10 remaining members subsequently sealed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which kept most of the TPP deal intact.

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