Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Top US policy expert on North Korea announces retirement

Envoy on North Korea retiring Top US envoy for North Korea to retire after President Trump rejects talks without conditions
| 02 March, 2018, 08:06

Joseph Yun, the State Department's top diplomat on North Korea policy, will retire at the end of the week, the agency said Monday.

A senior State Department official told Reuters late a year ago that Yun had sought direct diplomacy with North Korean officials at the United Nations in the hope of lowering the temperature in a risky standoff. "[Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson has told me he appreciates my service and did not want me to go, but he accepts it reluctantly".

The special envoy's authority to engage with North Korea appeared to be undercut by a tug-of-war between the White House and State Department over North Korea policy under Mr Trump.

For the past year and a half, tensions have been building on the Korean Peninsula as both Trump and Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, have ratcheted up bellicose attacks that seemed to push the United States and the North closer to a confrontation.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert further confirmed Yun's retirement in a series of tweets Tuesday.

Joseph Yun (center) during his time as U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia.

"We want to talk also", Trump told U.S. governors at the White House on Monday.

Last May, he met in Oslo with the head of the Americas division in North Korea's foreign ministry, Choe Son Hui, to arrange for Warmbier's release.

Manabu Horii, Japan's Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, also struck a tough note, saying North Korea's nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches were unacceptable. And we want to talk also, only under the right conditions.


Trump has yet to nominate an ambassador to South Korea, a post vacant for over a year.

He also traveled to Pyongyang last June to collect Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who had been detained in North Korea for 17 months, nearly all of them in a coma.

Yun's unexpected departure creates another crucial vacancy in the USA diplomatic corps under President Donald Trump's administration after 13 months in office.President Trump has yet to formally announce an ambassador to South Korea, and several key posts remain unfilled due to an exodus of numerous career diplomats and staffers.

A rapprochement between the two Koreas, inspired by South Korea's recent hosting of the Winter Olympics, offers a glimmer of hope for diplomacy.

In response, Han said South Korea mistakenly continues to believe that such pressure is effective.

The loss of Yun may complicate efforts by the Trump administration to achieve a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula. High seas petroleum transfers to North Korean vessels are prohibited under U.N. Security Council economic sanctions on Pyongyang's nuclear program.

But the White House has remained committed to its strategy of isolating the communist state, unveiling its largest sanctions package yet on Friday.

Sanders denied that the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics were missed opportunities for dialogue between the United States and North Korea, adding that the message it had "wanted to deliver was the one of maximum pressure".

"They want to talk", said Trump, as he addressed USA governors at the White House Monday. -North Korea talks aimed at denuclearization.

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