World Top North Korea Nuclear Negotiator Secretly Met With U.S. Diplomats

15:56  18 june  2017
15:56  18 june  2017 Source:   MSN

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Top North Korea Nuclear Negotiator Secretly Met With U . S . Diplomats . China Pushes U . S . Aside in Pakistan. As EU Preps Sanctions Extension, Russia Adapts.

North Korea ’s Nuclear Weapons Development and Diplomacy . “is the only way to resolve everything” between North Korea and the United States.6 According to South Korea ’s Foreign Minister, North Korean negotiators told Bosworth that U . S

North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator, Choi Sun Hee, speaks to the media in Beijing in June 2016.© Provided by The Wall Street Journal. For more than a year, American diplomats have held secret talks in Pyongyang and European cities with North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator, hoping to free U.S. prisoners and even establish a diplomatic channel to constrain North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

The official dispatched by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un—Madame Choi Sun Hee—is well known to U.S. officials, fluent in English and is believed to have direct access to Mr. Kim. That raised expectations that the regime eventually might engage with the Trump administration about the future of Pyongyang’s weapons efforts. So did the agreed release this month of 22-year-old American prisonerOtto Warmbier, until it emerged he was in a coma.

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In addition, North Korea wanted nuclear disarmament to be off the table during the supposed clandestine peace talks, something the U . S . was Direct talks with the U . S . have been the wish of North Korea for years, but multi-party engagement was always the chosen avenue for U . S . diplomats .

Identi-fying with South Korean public concerns about a major shift in security posture during the ongoing second North Korean nuclear crisis, ROK negotiators North Korea ’ s ballistic missiles tests in July and nuclear weapon test in October dominated diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula.

“Given the reported status of Mr. Warmbier’s condition, any diplomatic path forward is going to be extremely difficult,” said Suzanne DiMaggio of the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank, who helped establish an unofficial channel with the North Koreans early last year. But she had a suggestion for Pyongyang to begin to repair the damage: “If the North Koreans immediately released the remaining three prisoners, it could set up an atmosphere for potentially serious talks.”

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he isn’t seeking regime change in North Korea and hasn’t ruled out negotiations to curb North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.

Still, there is concern inside the U.S. government about Mr. Warmbier’s health and his treatment by North Korean guards during 18 months in custody. He was returned to the U.S. in a coma, and doctors said he has lost an extensive amount of brain tissue.

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The United States and North Korea “have been secretly discussing having ‘talks about talks Several well-connected former U . S . officials and bureaucrats have met with senior North Korean officials. In January, two former U . S . officials spoke with Ri Yong-ho, North Korea ’s lead nuclear negotiator and

North Korean diplomats and media have also insisted that instead of continuing denuclearization negotiations , North Korea now 11 Abdul Qadeer Khan was Pakistan’ s top nuclear scientist up until his arrest in 2004 and had provided technology and expertise to North Korea among other countries.

Early last year, Ms. DiMaggio established through interlocutors in Stockholm a “track two” dialogue with North Korea, a term reflecting the fact no active U.S. officials were present at the initial meetings. She made the first of two trips to the North Korean capital in February 2016, in an early bid to help defuse the nuclear crisis.

Ms. DiMaggio has long worked to establish diplomatic channels to countries in conflict with the U.S. She held numerous track two discussions with Iranian officials before the Obama administration formally started nuclear negotiations with Tehran in 2012.

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Madame Choi was a major player in nuclear and missile negotiations that took place both during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, current and former U.S. officials said. Her official title now is the director-general of the North America affairs bureau of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry.

“When Track Two participants meet with her, what they’re getting is someone who can convey very accurately to us what the North Koreans want us to hear,” said Robert Einhorn, a former senior State Department official who worked on North Korea in the Obama and Clinton administrations and met Madame Choi last month. “She’s a valuable interlocutor because of her experience and connections.”

Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico governor and U.S. energy secretary, separately began a string of about 20 meetings with North Korean diplomats in New York at about the same time as Ms. DiMaggio’s trips that were focused on gaining Mr. Warmbier’s release. The North Koreans’ favorite spot for meetings was The Palm steakhouse in New York, close to their United Nations offices.

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Per the report, which is based off comments made by those experts at a “closed-door meeting with U . S . nuclear specialists,” these Based on statements by senior U . S . diplomatic officials, the United States will likely be unconvinced by heightened threat perceptions of North Korea ’s capabilities.

Mr. Richardson sent his own representative to Pyongyang last September to seek Mr. Warmbier’s release. “[Mr. Warmbier’s] situation will temper the desire for dialogue for the time being,” said Mr. Richardson, a self-proclaimed champion of engagement. “I’m so unhappy and disgusted by what’s happened to him.”

The Obama administration had largely frozen direct contacts with North Korea in a policy that became known as “strategic patience.”

The two sides reached a preliminary agreement in 2012 that called for Pyongyang to freeze its missile tests in return for the U.S. shipping food aid to the country. But the deal collapsed after the North test-fired what it claimed was a rocket for a civilian satellite program.

Obama administration officials grumbled that any agreements with Pyongyang appeared futile.

Mr. Richardson has held negotiations with North Korean officials on prisoner issues dating back to the 1990s, when he was a congressman and then-President Clinton’s ambassador to the U.N. But he said the dynamic of his encounters has changed under the rule of Mr. Kim, who took power in late 2011.

North Korean Foreign Ministry officials, he said, aren’t as aware of developments in Pyongyang as they were under Mr. Kim’s father and grandfather, the previous leaders of the communist country. The issue of American prisoners, Mr. Richardson said, appeared now to be totally under the mandate of the North’s security forces.

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U . S . Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun (R) answers questions from reporters following meeting with Japan and South Korea chief nuclear negotiators to talk about North Korean issues at the Iikura guest house in Tokyo, Japan April 25, 2017. Next In Top News.

“It’s conceivable my interlocutors didn’t even know about Otto Warmbier’s status,” Mr. Richardson said in an interview.

Following Mr. Trump’s inauguration, the official and nonofficial American contacts with the North Koreans started to merge, said U.S. officials and participants in the dialogue.

The State Department’s special representative for North Korea, Joseph Yun, was first scheduled to attend a meeting with Madame Choi and other North Korean diplomats in New York this February, these officials said.

But the Trump administration canceled the North Koreans’ visas at the last minute after Mr. Kim’s half brother was assassinated in Malaysia. The U.S. believed the killing was state-sanctioned, a charge Pyongyang has denied.

In May, Mr. Yun attended a meeting with Madame Choi in Oslo that was organized by Ms. DiMaggio and the Norwegian government. It largely focused on the status of the American prisoners.

Mr. Yun and Madame Choi had dinner and a two-hour meeting in the Norwegian capital. But the senior North Korean diplomat didn’t provide any details about Mr. Warmbier’s declining health, according to senior U.S. officials. She did promise to provide access to American prisoners in North Korea, using Swedish diplomats in Pyongyang.

Madame Choi told reporters in Beijing after leaving Norway that Pyongyang would be willing to meet U.S. officials for talks on the nuclear issue “if the conditions are set.”

Americans who have met Madame Choi said the North Korea diplomat is steadfast that Pyongyang will maintain its nuclear weapons arsenal but is open to the possibility of limiting it. “They have not ruled out partial steps, like a cap or freeze as a temporary measure,” said Mr. Einhorn, who is now at the Brookings Institution. “They don’t attack that; nor do they says it’s acceptable.”

It wasn’t until June 6 that North Korea invited Mr. Yun for a direct meeting in New York with Pyongyang’s ambassador to the U.N., according to the State Department. It was here that the U.S. finally was notified that Mr. Warmbier was in a coma.

The revelation resulted in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s decision to send a diplomatic and medical team to Pyongyang to bring the University of Virginia student home.

Three Americans remain in North Korean prisons.

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