During a Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Anthony Blinken vowed to work with U.S. allies to take on pressing challenges, including countering the threats posed by Russia, Iran and North Korea.
Blinken also noted that the U.S. is "far better positioned" to deal with North Korea and other adversaries when it works with friendly nations.
His comments marked the first time Blinken has publicly mentioned North Korea since he was nominated in late November 2020.
He has largely remained tightlipped, despite many North Korea experts pointing to the possibility of a long-range missile test, nuclear test, or other provocations by Pyeongyang, in an effort by the regime to place itself high on the list of priorities for the Biden administration.
In a separate hearing, Biden's nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, said understanding North Korea's capabilities and true intentions is a critical role of U.S. intelligence, adding she will review existing intelligence on the regime to discern what its intentions are.
Asked how she interprets the North's missile tests and its implications on future denuclearization talks, Haines said she'll review intelligence and analysis relayed to her by related intelligence community professionals.
Both of them also mentioned China as part of threats facing against the U.S.
Blinken told lawmakers that the U.S. "can outcompete China".
Haines noted a need for the U.S. intelligence community to allocate more resources for Northeast Asia, in order to counter Beijing.
With Biden to be sworn in on Wednesday, the two nominees will work closest with South Korea, on pending diplomatic issues, including kickstarting the stalled denuclearization talks with Pyeongyang.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.