US, South Korea 'deeply concerned' about North Korea

World Saturday 22/May/2021 16:36 PM
By: DW
US, South Korea 'deeply concerned' about North Korea

The presidents of the United States and South Korea have said they are "deeply concerned" about secretive nuclear state North Korea.

US President Joe Biden made the statement after he and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met for talks at the White House on Friday.

Due to the coronavirus, it was only Biden's second time meeting a foreign leader in person since taking office.

Moon hailed the meeting, saying: "The world is welcoming America's return," — a reference to former president Donald Trump's non-interventionist America first policy.

US and South Korea's 'shared approach' to North Korea

The two countries agreed to a "shared approach" to North Korea, Biden said.

He and Moon both were willing to engage diplomatically with the North "to take pragmatic steps to reduce tensions," the US president added.

This could take the form of direct talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but there would have to be a commitment from Kim "that there's a discussion about his nuclear arsenal."

Biden said he was "under no illusions" about the difficulty of getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, and announced plans to send diplomat Sung Kim, who previously served as ambassador to South Korea, to serve as the US special envoy to the region.

Moon said the move by Biden "reflects the firm commitment of the US for exploring diplomacy and its readiness for dialogue with North Korea."

He called Biden's approach to North Korea realistic and pragmatic. He stressed that denuclearization was a top priority.

Before visiting Biden, Moon had said he hoped to restart the peace process between North and South Korea.

Biden's new North Korea strategy

The White House last month said it plans to depart from the strategies towards North Korea adopted by his two most recent predecessors. But the White House under Biden has said little about what its new policy actually entails.

Former President Donald Trump had attempted to win over Kim with a succession of summits, while Barack Obama refused to engage with the North during his time in the White House.

Moon and Biden tackle security, vaccines and climate change

During the meeting on Friday, the presidents also renewed an "ironclad commitment" to shared security.

"Our alliance has long been the linchpin of peace, security, prosperity, and the region growing more prominent and us being together," Biden told reporters. He also highlighted the two countries' "long history of shared sacrifice."

High on Biden's list for the meeting was also coordination in vaccine distribution, climate change and increasingly tense regional security concerns regarding China.

Moon honors Korean War veteran

Moon started his day at the White House by meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris and top Biden advisers.

Moon also participated in a Medal of Honor ceremony for Ralph Puckett, a 94-year-old army veteran who was celebrated for his gallantry during the Korean War.

He hailed Puckett as a "true hero."

The White House said this was the first time any foreign leader had taken part in a Medal of Honor ceremony.