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Biden’s North Korea Challenge

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US President Donald Trump chose an unconventional style of diplomacy with North Korea that was characterised by an emphasis on leader-to-leader relations and a go-it-alone approach that minimised consultation with other stakeholders. While this approach resulted in three summit meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, it did not lead to a meaningful rollback of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

When US President-elect Joe Biden takes office on 20 January, he will face a North Korea that is frustrated about what it sees as failed diplomacy and eager to continue expanding its nuclear and missile arsenal. To raise the chances of progress in denuclearising North Korea, Biden should seek better coordination with US allies South Korea and Japan than Trump had in any future diplomatic process. Biden would also need to seek cooperation from China as well, given its important role.

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