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When it comes to the goal of denuclearizing North Korea, shared by allies South Korea and the United States, establishing consistency in their relevant policies is a necessary step, regardless of which administration takes office, either in Seoul and Washington, lawmakers and politicians of the countries said during a virtual forum.

“We have an unfortunate habit in Washington. When there is a transition of the administration, we tend to throw away many things that the previous administration has done,” said Joseph Yun, the former U.S. special representative for North Korea policies, who participated in an online discussion event between congressional and assembly members of both countries, Tuesday.

Yun and other participants said that there has been no consistency in the countries’ North Korea policy, as it has often changed along with administrations. But they said such inconsistency in North Korea policy did not help both countries’ efforts to bring the North back to the negotiation table, and they now need to establish some kind of consistency in order to build a shared North Korea policy.

The former U.S. special envoy said that although there are many things he disagrees with in the former administration under Donald Trump, especially in terms of its foreign policy direction, he believes that there was something that should be noted ― Trump’s attempts to reach out to North Korea and to solve the problem by holding summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un three times.

“I do believe that something he did was right,” Yun said. He also urged Seoul and Washington to take diplomatic initiatives based on a realistic assessment of the previous administration’s policy, saying that he believes Kim is waiting for Washington’s call since the breakup of the 2019 Hanoi deal.

The event was hosted by the office of Rep. Lee Kwang-jae of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK). Four DPK members participated as speakers, with four U.S. politicians participating through video link. The participants discussed how the allies could cooperate better in terms of dealing with sectors of the COVID-19 pandemic health crisis, economy and security.

Attending from the U.S. side were Virginia Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly, co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Korea; California Republican Representative Young Kim, a Korean American member of the U.S. House of Representatives; Yun; and Frank Jannuzi, president of the Washington-based think tank, the Mansfield Foundation, and a close aide to U.S. President Joe Biden.

Former Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan participated in the virtual event as the moderator, while four DPK lawmakers ― Hong Young-pyo, Kim Young-ho, Lee Jae-jung and Lee Young-sun ― participated as speakers from the South Korean side.

“The debate session was meaningful, in that it was the first meeting between congressional and assembly members of both countries since the inauguration of the Biden administration,” Rep. Lee Gwang-jae, who hosted the event, said after the event.

Lee and other participants agreed that the allies are at a critical point for reaching an agreement to realize a unified North Korea policy through coordination. The Biden administration’s North Korea policy is widely expected to be outlined with details in several months, by around June of this year.

“I am also planning to host similar events with lawmakers of other neighboring countries, such as Russia, China and Japan,” said Rep. Lee.

The Korea Times

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