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Direct U.S.-D.P.R.K. Negotiations Proposed by Wilson Center

Oct. 2, 2016 (EIRNS)—Surprising in Washington, D.C. policy circles, two leaders of the Wilson Center for International Scholars issued a sane call for direct U.S. talks with North Korea, in an op-ed in the Oct. 2 Washington Post.

The Wilson Center president, former Congresswoman Jane Harman, and James Person, head of Center for Korean History and Public Policy at the Wilson Center, emphasized that the Obama policy of stringent sanctions and strategic disengagement does not work. In addition, pressuring China to unilaterally take care of the North Korea problem, ignores China’s actual strategic and economic development interests in the region.

But, they wrote,

"The United States has an underappreciated ace in its deck: North Korea has been trying to talk to us since 1974. Only the United States—the supposed existential threat that justifies its nuclear and ballistic missile programs—can fully address Pyongyang’s security concerns.

"To do so, we would have to demonstrate some flexibility. The lesson North Korea’s leaders learned from the Iraq War and NATO intervention in Libya was that no outlier state without nuclear deterrence is safe. Displays of military might—sending B-1 bombers along the demilitarized zone or ships and submarines off the North Korean coast—only make an insecure Pyongyang more recalcitrant. Failing to acknowledge North Korea’s concerns in some small way, even if we consider those concerns unfounded, makes progress harder.

"While the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula remains the long-term goal, we propose using this U.S. leverage to enter into talks with Pyongyang with the stated goal of negotiating a freeze of all North Korean nuclear and long-range missile tests and a return of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors. Realistically, this can only be achieved through direct talks with North Korea, not a return to a six-party process that evoked too much mistrust among key stakeholders, especially between Pyongyang and Beijing."

On the U.S. side, it will have to negotiate with the D.P.R.K. a firm non-aggression pact," Harman and Person wrote.

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