US says North Korea ignoring Biden's behind-the-scenes outreach 

Washington's quiet political manoeuvres - in contrast to Donald Trump's grandstanding and high-profile summits - have not yielded any results, according to report

North Korea ignoring Biden's behind-the-scenes outreach 
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un addresses a training course for chief secretaries of city and county Workers' Party committees in Pyongyang. Photo: Korean Central News Agency via Reuters

(ATF) North Korea has not responded to the US administration's behind-the-scenes diplomatic outreach, according to a report on March 13.

Reuters reported that a senior Biden administration official said Pyongyang has not responded either to direct diplomatic contact or through its United Nations mission in New York.

The disclosure comes as Biden's top diplomat Antony Blinken arrives in Seoul for his first face-to-face meetings with foreign leaders.

The North Korean silence raises questions about how Biden will address mounting tensions with Pyongyang over its nuclear missile programmes.

Blinken, the US Secretary of State, has said that North Korea is at the top of the list among countries that present the US with "serious challenges", along with China, Russia and Iran. 

REVIEW OF POLICY

Blinken will travel to Tokyo, Japan, and Seoul from March 15–18 to "reaffirm the US commitment to strengthening our alliances and to highlight cooperation that promotes peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world", said Department of State spokesman Ned Price.

In Seoul, Blinken will consult on Biden's review of policy towards Pyongyang in the wake of former president Donald Trump's high-profile "summits" in Singapore and Hanoi with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea has had a particularly difficult year as its borders with China have been sealed since January 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Trade with China was down more than 80% last year, Chinese customs data show.

Desperate for cash, North Korea has been launching dozens of cyberattacks on cryptocurrency exchanges to obtain foreign currencies. The regime is also seeking weapons and other military information, according to a draft report by a UN expert panel released in February.

The draft showed that North Korea stole an estimated total of $316 million in 2019 and 2020 through cyberattacks on cryptocurrency exchanges. 

With reporting by Reuters

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