Former President Donald Trump left office with U.S.-North Korea relations hanging as he ended his term last month.
His short-lived bromance with regime dictator Kim Jong-un left much to be desired on the practicalities of dismantling Pyeongyang's nuclear weapons program, after their summit talks in 2018 broke down without an agreement.
With the new Biden administration, many have questioned how and when the new president will address the dictatorship and its nuclear threat.
To discuss this we connect with Bruce Jones, director and a senior fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution.
1. While Secretary of State Tony Blinken reaffirmed that the U.S. will conduct a full review of its North Korea policy, some worry it might take the President some time to focus on the issue given the urgent domestic issues he has on hand. Do you share this concern? When he gets to addressing foreign policy, what do you think he will prioritise? Will North Korea have to wait for its turn after Iran?
2. The Trump-Kim bromance lacked a lot of substance and working-level coordination. How do you think Biden's team of key diplomats and security officials such as Anthony Blinken, Wendy Sherman, and Jake Sullivan, as well as Jung Pak will engage with North Korea?
3. A former diplomat for North Korea said in a CNN interview this week that Kim Jong-un is not likely to denuclearise but may be willing to concede to an arms reduction. Is this more realistic? How do you think the U.S. should approach dialogue with the North Koreans?
4. Denuclearisation talks traditionally proceeded in the form of Six Party Talks, and South Korea and the United States stood united in their stance. However, the talks between Trump and Kim in 2018 exclusively involved the United States and North Korea. Even President Moon Jae-in left the room when the three leaders randomly met up at the inter-Korean border. Do you think the Biden administration will take a more multilateral approach to resolving the North Korea issue?
5. While South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been pushing for inter-Korean peace, and the two Koreas reached a military agreement in 2018 to defuse tensions along the border, North Korea launched several missile tests and constantly made threats aimed at the South. Is it possible to have peace or for an end-of-war declaration to be effective without irreversible steps being taken by Pyeongyang towards denuclearization or disarmament? How do you think Seoul should approach Pyeongyang has it been giving away too much too soon?
6. The Obama administration was criticised for being rather passive when it came to diplomacy in Asia, while President Trump may have caused too much of a stir. How would you characterise Biden's style of diplomacy?
7. Relations between South Korea and the U.S. were tested over the course of Mr. Trump's presidency due to him questioning the terms of our bilateral FTA and the shared defense costs of keeping American soldiers on the Korean Peninsula. Do you see the relationship warming between President Biden and President Moon?
8. President Biden made it clear he wants to revive U.S. leadership and the spirit of multilateralism in the world. What are some common values the U.S. and South Korea share and what do you think the two countries can work on together, as they face common goals and challenges in global governance?
That was Bruce Jones, director and a senior fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. Thank you for your time.