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PacNet #8 – The Road to Better US-North Korea Relations Starts in Seoul

Shuttle diplomacy surrounding North Korea and its nuclear programs is back in full swing, with China and North Korea exchanging high-level visits, the UN’s political chief visiting Pyongyang, and a possible multilateral gathering in Beijing next month. At issue is the potential for restarting stalled Six-Party Talks aimed at North Korean denuclearization and political normalization in the region. Throughout this process, Pyongyang has tried to weaken the solidarity between the United States and South Korea and set up bilateral talks with Washington, but US officials have resisted. This is the right policy, but it is time for the ROK and the US to adopt a more proactive, but still closely coordinated, approach to relations with the North. The inter-Korean component of this multi-faceted diplomatic endeavor is more important than ever, and it would be useful to link progress in US-North Korea relations more clearly to North-South improvements.