News / Asia

US, N. Korea Tentative About Future Relations

There are still more questions than answers about what comes next for North Korea, as the communist nation mourns the death of long-time leader Kim Jong Il.  One question increasingly on the minds of some analysts: Is the United States missing a chance to make critical inroads with the new regime?

Flags fly at half-staff in North Korea, as North Koreans publicly grieve.

What has been missing so far, any official offer of condolences from the United States.  And State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland made clear earlier this week, no such statement will be coming.

"With regard to the 'C word,' I think we didn't consider it appropriate in this case," said Nuland.

The U.S. did issue a statement that Nuland described as a signal of Washington's "expectations and hopes for the new regime."

But is that enough?

Former US Representative for North Korea Stephen Bosworth says maybe, or maybe not.

"North Korea makes decisions on what it’s going to negotiate, or how it’s going to negotiate, what it’s going to give up, in terms of demands, very much based on their own perception of their self-interest," said Bosworth.

The U.S. officially expressed its condolences to North Korea in 1994, when Kim Jong Il's father, Kim Il Sung, died.  Bosworth says that may have helped ease tensions for a while.  

Pyongyang signed onto the so-called "Framework Agreement," freezing its nuclear programs just a few months later.

But any gains quickly disappeared.  North Korea has continued to pursue nuclear weapons while stoking tensions with South Korea.  

Just last year, North Korea launched an unprovoked attack on a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors.  A few months later, it shelled South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island, killing four.

In addition to Pyongyang's erratic behavior, there are also political considerations for the U.S., especially as it heads into an election year.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage says the U.S. needs to be careful it does not give Pyongyang too much room to maneuver.

"It makes us look weak and them look strong," said Armitage.  "I think the better part of wisdom is to keep our powder dry, take a deep breath and watch carefully."

For now, it seems what happens next will be in the hands of Kim Jong Il's youngest son, Kim Jong Un - a man who like his country, is a mystery to many on the outside.


Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid