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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid