On Wednesday, South Korea warned the Biden administration against additional sanctions on North Korea and suggested that the US should be more flexible and seek talks with Pyongyang.
“If we were to talk about additional sanctions, it’s time to review what achievements the sanctions have brought so far. Strengthening it might not be everything,” Lee In-young, South Korea’s reunification minister, told reporters.
As the head of inter-Korean affairs in South Korea, Lee is hoping to revive stalled denuclearization talks with North Korea. “We have to look back at the aspect that flexibly applying sanctions depending on the situation could play a role in expediting denuclearization negotiations,” he said.
While the Biden administration’s North Korea policy is not yet clear, earlier this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested that more sanctions are possible. But South Korea seems to be pushing for a more diplomatic approach.
A few days before President Biden’s inauguration, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the new administration should build on Trump’s talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un. “The achievements we have seen in the Trump administration should be the basis of talks with the new administration in the United States,” he said.
Last week, South Korea’s Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told Reuters that the US should seek a pause in North Korea’s nuclear program at first instead of demanding complete denuclearization right out of the gate. This was a strategy considered by Stephen Bieguin, who served as Trump’s envoy for North Korea negotiations.