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Planning Underway for March Meeting of North Korean Government Officials and Former U.S. Officials

Feb. 22, 2017 (EIRNS)—The Washington Post, New York Times, and other media have reported that a group of former U.S. officials with experience in Korean affairs are planning a "Track 1.5" meeting with North Korean government officials in New York City in March.

The group, organized by Donald S. Zagoria of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, who was a consultant on Asia during the Carter administration, has organized previous rounds of such talks since 2003. But this would be the first in New York in five years, because Barack Obama refused to allow them, as part of his "strategic patience" policy toward the North—which was essentially to build up military forces and impose more and more sanctions until he could get a "regime change" war started.

President Trump has refused to issue denunciations against the North, even after a recent missile test which provoked all the geopoliticians to scream for more hostile acts against Pyongyang. Trump famously said he would like to have a hamburger with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson discussed the North Korean issue in a discussion with leading Chinese official Yang Jiechi on Tuesday. The State Department has yet to issue visas to the North Korean officials, but The New York Times quoted Evans Revere, a former top East Asia hand at the State Department under several administrations, saying: "If the visas are issued, it will be a clear message that the Trump administration is prepared to go the extra mile and engage North Korea."

Sputnik today quotes Alexander Vorontsov, head of the Korean department of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Far Eastern Studies, who said that

"the fact that this upcoming meeting has already attracted considerable attention from the U.S. media suggests that the new administration treats these unofficial meetings more seriously and has adopted a new approach. There may even be some kind of basis being prepared for increasing the level of dialogue.... It appears very likely that Washington finally realized that the approach adopted by the previous administration didn’t work. For eight years the Obama administration stuck to the stick without carrot method, i.e., kept applying pressure without offering any incentives. This approach clearly failed as, despite the imposed sanctions, none of its goals were achieved."