North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently spoke out about a "tense" situation in food and said that his country is facing "the worst-ever crisis." His government has maintained its resolve to not rejoin the talks unless Washington stops being hostile.
"We all feel sorry for the people of DPRK, which are indeed facing all of the most difficult circumstances given this pandemic and what it means for their food security," U.S. Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said to reporters in Seoul. She was referring to North Korea's official title, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
She stated, "We only wish for a better outcome to the people of DPRK."
Sherman spoke after meeting with South Korean officials. During which, the two sides reiterated that they will continue diplomatic efforts to convince North Korea back to the nuclear talks.
Sherman stated that "we are looking forward to a consistent, predictable, and constructive way forward with DPRK." Sherman said, "We have offered to meet and talk with the North Koreans and we wait to hear from them."
Choi Jong Kun, South Korea's first vice-foreign minister, spoke alongside Sherman. He said that "We'll wait until a North Korean reply with patience as now it's the coronavirus season."
Since early 2019, the talks between Washington, Pyongyang and Kim have been stalled. This was after a second summit between Kim (then-President Donald Trump) collapsed because of wrangling about U.S.-led economic restrictions. Kim has threatened to increase his nuclear arsenal and develop more sophisticated weapons if the Americans do not lift their hostile policies, which is an apparent reference to the sanctions.
Experts believe that North Korea might be forced to seek out the United States in times of economic crisis. Outside monitoring groups have not reported any signs that North Korea is suffering from mass starvation or social disorder. Kim recently called on his 26 million citizens to prepare for COVID-19-restricted conditions. This indicated that the country was not ready to reopen its borders, despite the huge economic toll.
The spy agency from South Korea told lawmakers this month that North Korea had not received any foreign coronavirus vaccinations. COVAX, a U.N.-backed program that ships COVID-19 vaccines around the world, stated in February that North Korea could be receiving 1.9 million doses during the first half year. UNICEF, however, procures and delivers vaccines for COVAX and said that North Korea hadn't completed the paperwork to receive the vaccines. It was also unclear when the vaccines could be delivered.
Sherman will travel to China and Mongolia, North Korea's last major ally. Since January's inauguration of President Joe Biden, she will be the highest ranking American official to visit China.
Sherman stated that she will discuss North Korea with Chinese officials during her Sunday visit to Tianjin, a northeastern Chinese town.
"The Biden administration described China's relations with the United States as a complex one. She said that it had aspects that were competitive and challenging as well as aspects where cooperation was possible. "And the idea of bringing about the complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula is a great area for cooperation," she said.
Choi stated that China is aware of its ability to play a "very important role" in efforts towards bringing North Korea back to dialogue. He stated that Sherman's China trip was "very meaningful" for both Washington and Seoul, and that Beijing has a shared responsibility to fulfill its role.
China is threatening Sherman ahead of their meeting. This is a direct reflection of the rapid deterioration in relations under Trump and continued under Biden.
At a daily briefing, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stated that the U.S. "defines China as a competitor and provokes confrontation and containing and suppressing China’s development." "The U.S. side has called for dialogue with China, albeit from a position that is strong, which only reflects its arrogance.