Report: U.S. met secretly with top North Korean diplomat last month to, er, deliver talking points

posted at 6:01 pm on April 9, 2013 by Allahpundit

I guess it didn’t work.

Clifford Hart, the State Department’s special envoy to the now-defunct six-party talks, met North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations Han Song-ryol in mid-March, just before North Korea began its latest string of provocative statements and actions, diplomatic sources said. The meeting was done through what’s known in diplomatic circles as the “New York channel,” the most common method of direct communication between Washington and Pyongyang.

No real progress was made during the meeting and no new offers were made by the U.S. officials present, the sources said. The U.S. side simply reiterated the administration’s call for North Korea to avoid provocative actions as well as its offer for a return to diplomacy if North Korea recommitted to fulfilling its international obligations and pursuing a path of denuclearization. The North Korean side simply agreed to communicate that information back to Pyongyang…

“Unfortunately, the New York channel, which in the past was an important communications link between Pyongyang and Washington, appears to have become a place where boilerplate talking points are exchanged,” former nuclear negotiator Joel Wit told The Cable. “It’s especially disappointing given the ongoing crisis which puts a premium on candid communication to avoid misunderstanding and to find a diplomatic off-ramp from the current tense situation.”

Not the first amateurish move lately towards North Korea, do note. The logic here, I assume, was that they were willing to give baby Kim his bottle, but just a small bottle — an open channel of communication but without any new concessions. He’s been screaming ever since. Second look at pulling U.S. troops out of South Korea?

Is North Korea a threat or not? It’s easy to get confused. But despite Kim Jong Un’s bluster, the regime is only a threat to the U.S. to the extent that we’ve put ourselves in harm’s way…

I don’t begrudge South Korean youth their sense of normalcy, except to the extent that its underwritten by American soldiers and the U.S. taxpayer. The Republic of Korea’s military is slated to shrink below the level needed to deal even with a “rosy scenario” regime collapse, and despite its crazy neighbor to the north, South Korea spends a smaller portion of its gross domestic product on defense than we do (2.6 percent to our 4.7).

The good news is, as my colleague Doug Bandow explains, “the Republic of Korea has 40 times the GDP and twice the population of the North” — it has “both the means and incentive to handle the DPRK” — if we’ll only take them off the dole.

The joint U.S.-ROK approach toward the DPRK’s erratic behavior has been described as “strategic patience.” Given the costs of confrontation, that’s a sound strategy. But we can be just as patient from home.

That’s Gene Healy writing at Reason with an evergreen libertarian solution to U.S. foreign policy challenges. (And it is a U.S. challenge, sooner rather than later even without troops on the peninsula assuming NK’s nuclear program and missile development continue apace.) I was curious: With all the ink spilled lately about the public’s war weariness and the rise of Rand Paul as a force in Republican politics, could voters be coming around to the idea of coming home? CNN asked a sample of Americans, “If South Korea were attacked by North Korea, do you think the United States should use military troops to help defend South Korea, or not?” The results:

northkorea

Gallup got 55 percent saying yes when it asked a similar question a few days ago, but either way that’s an amazing result after 12 years of Afghanistan and Iraq. I wonder how many of those voters know that there are thousands of U.S. troops in harm’s way in South Korea and that war on the peninsula with Seoul in the crosshairs would likely be the bloodiest conflict of the last 30 years, at least. But oh well: Follow that last link, scroll down to page 23, and check the numbers for yourself. Across every demographic, including young voters, majorities support American defense of South Korea, even though Healy’s right that the South would eventually prevail against the North if it had to go it alone and if China didn’t intervene on the NorKs’ side. Very interested to see how Paul plays this if, heaven forbid, the situation gets any hotter.

Update: Whoops — accidentally typed “North” when I meant “South” up above. Corrected now.


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Just offer them a chest full of basketballs.

BobMbx on April 9, 2013 at 6:03 PM

who to believe…..

PappyD61 on April 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

If you want something done right, send Susan Rice.

steebo77 on April 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

……….an government with a charismatic leader that lies or….

PappyD61 on April 9, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Barack will blink. He’ll offer something of substance behind closed doors. No way this escalates to war.

BKeyser on April 9, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Send Obama over there; maybe he’ll bore him to sleep with his speeches.

squint on April 9, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Second look at pulling U.S. troops out of North Korea?

and they say Palin is dumb. Allah when is the last time we had troops in NORTH korea?

unseen on April 9, 2013 at 6:08 PM

It’s tomorrow in North Korea right now…

Seven Percent Solution on April 9, 2013 at 6:10 PM

North Korea didn’t go for a comprehensive common sense balanced approach to not bombing anybody?

Apparently the Obama Campaign needs a better focus group consultant in North Korea.

forest on April 9, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Second look at pulling U.S. troops out of North Korea?

and they say Palin is dumb. Allah when is the last time we had troops in NORTH korea?

unseen on April 9, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Did you even click on the link. He was quoting Chuck Hagel.

RickB on April 9, 2013 at 6:12 PM

the difference between Korea and Iraq and Afgan is we have a treaty with SK and we would be the defenders not the attackers. the public is weary of empire building in far off corners of the world. empire building done poorly and for no reason it seems. A korean conflict is about defending an ally and friend.

unseen on April 9, 2013 at 6:12 PM

It’s a good thing Obowma has that party tonight…

Seven Percent Solution on April 9, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Did you even click on the link. He was quoting Chuck Hagel.

RickB on April 9, 2013 at 6:12 PM

no I didn’t and I didn’t see any quotes around it either.

unseen on April 9, 2013 at 6:13 PM

There’s a key distinction in the public opinion I think between Yes South Korea should be defended as an ally of the US and No the US should not keep nearly 30,000 troops along the DMZ trip wire for 60 years as little more than cannon fodder while the ROK goes from war-ravaged refugee to economic mini-superpower more than capable of meeting the great majority of its military/security needs.

Sacramento on April 9, 2013 at 6:13 PM

if China didn’t intervene on the NorKs’ side.

It would seem more likely that China would intervene on the NorKs’ side if we did simply leave South Korea to defend for themselves, our presence may give China second thoughts about intervening.

fourdeucer on April 9, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Did you even click on the link. He was quoting Chuck Hagel.

RickB on April 9, 2013 at 6:12 PM

ok clicked the link still didn’t see where it mentioned pulling troops out of north korea.

unseen on April 9, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Must have delivered it to the wrong general. How’d that work out for ya?

jake49 on April 9, 2013 at 6:16 PM

We should pull all of our troops out of Korea and most other countries across the world, and then when someone attacks us our response should be BARBARIC. That’s what military policy should be.

thphilli on April 9, 2013 at 6:23 PM

I guess the wording wasn’t sufficiently stern, or something.

msmveritas on April 9, 2013 at 6:25 PM

There’s a key distinction in the public opinion I think between Yes South Korea should be defended as an ally of the US and No the US should not keep nearly 30,000 troops along the DMZ trip wire for 60 years as little more than cannon fodder while the ROK goes from war-ravaged refugee to economic mini-superpower more than capable of meeting the great majority of its military/security needs.

Sacramento on April 9, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Distinction in public opinion or not, the US keeps 30,000 troops on the DMZ because the US is still at War with North Korea.

SWalker on April 9, 2013 at 6:29 PM

Why give anything to Barky, it’s not as if he will respond back forcefully; the norks have his number just as everyone else does.

Bishop on April 9, 2013 at 6:30 PM

This just goes to prove the demo-rat socialists running our nation into the ground now believe everyone (including the NORKS) are just as stupid as the low information voters that got Obummer elected not once, but twice!

Problem with BS talking point spinners (like most demo-rats are) is they eventually start to believe their own BS spin…problem with that is doing so in such a delicate foreign affairs situation like we now find ourselves in with the NORKS BS spin can get us and South Korea blowed up!

SMART POWER INDEED!!

Liberty or Death on April 9, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Why give anything to Barky, it’s not as if he will respond back forcefully; the norks have his number just as everyone else does.

Bishop on April 9, 2013 at 6:30 PM

The GOP has Bark’s number?

Cudda fooled me.

Bruno Strozek on April 9, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Why in the world did they not try the reset button Hillary carries around??

HotAirian on April 9, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Maxwell Smart Power!

Bet they met in the cone of silence.

Marcola on April 9, 2013 at 6:43 PM

Fortunately there are no Muslims involved front and center to paralyze you into submission. It’s all up to leftard common sense and how they feel about social justice.

BL@KBIRD on April 9, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Why in the world did they not try the reset button Hillary carries around??

HotAirian on April 9, 2013 at 6:37 PM

It got busted during that Benghazi dust-up.

antipc on April 9, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Should have sent Dennis Rodman. He talked to Li’l Kim and his wife personally. Sheesh.

Philly on April 9, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Second look at pulling U.S. troops out of North Korea?

and they say Palin is dumb. Allah when is the last time we had troops in NORTH korea?

unseen on April 9, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Says ‘South’ now; corrected?

Midas on April 9, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Jeez, the libertarians are ‘slow’. We have an international treaty with South Korea. We always honor our treaties. Period. Financial pointyheads will always complain. Thats in their nature. Lol.

tommy71 on April 9, 2013 at 7:01 PM

North Korean diplomat

Isn’t that a contradiction?

JetBoy on April 9, 2013 at 7:08 PM

For nearly two decades the U.S. stalwartly fought for the six party talks. The bipartisan consensus in the foreign policy establishment is and was that bilateral talks would quickly turn into pure blackmail sessions, and the potential for crises (and danger to the world) would grow larger. America fought for those talks for twenty years, un Democrat and GOP administrations, precisely because the alternative would endanger alliances and, potentially, populations.

So in come the Obama smarty-pants. And look where we are: they give in, and commence bilateral talks (even if they aren’t calling them that formally). The Japanese are scared out of their minds, because the Americans have been secretly negotiating with their craziest enemies, and the NORKS are threatening world peace.

There is no imbecility too far off the balance-beam for these Democrats.

MTF on April 9, 2013 at 7:12 PM

North Korea is full of it, they aren’t going to do anything more than try to test a few missiles (that might get shot out of the sky by Japan, assuming they make it that far), and irradiate their own lands. I gotta say, Obama is actually handling a foreign ‘crisis’ pretty well for once. China has been flexing its muscle against a lot of our allies in the region lately, particularly against Japan over the Senkakus. Obama is using the North’s belligerence as cover for bolstering the defenses of our Pacific allies, and calling out the Kim regime as a bunch of blowhards in the process.

Lawdawg86 on April 9, 2013 at 7:17 PM

I’m betting Obama sent an IPod with all his speeches and a box of DVDs that only work in the US.
Should have sent him your recipe for Getman Shepard Soufflé, you limpd!ck jug eared jackhat.

RovesChins on April 9, 2013 at 7:22 PM

Report: U.S. met secretly with top North Korean diplomat last month to, er, deliver talking points

…no food…no peace

KOOLAID2 on April 9, 2013 at 7:53 PM

Just offer them a chest full of basketballs.

BobMbx on April 9, 2013 at 6:03 PM

How about offering them Dennis Rodman and a player to be named later?

Happy Nomad on April 9, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Says ‘South’ now; corrected?

Midas on April 9, 2013 at 6:59 PM

yes.

Update: Whoops — accidentally typed “North” when I meant “South” up above. Corrected now.

Just pointing out how easy it is to get them “confused” when talking about the conflict. not trying to say Allah thought there were troops in North korea.

unseen on April 9, 2013 at 8:33 PM

Not sure I can follow this let the South do it…blah blah twice as many people, blah blah 40X larger wallet. Would the South want to risk what they built or would they make a sweet sweet deal with China as their new protector? My bet, the latter. Smart power indeed, inside The Great Wall.

Limerick on April 9, 2013 at 8:53 PM

Not sure I can follow this let the South do it…blah blah twice as many people, blah blah 40X larger wallet. Would the South want to risk what they built or would they make a sweet sweet deal with China as their new protector? My bet, the latter. Smart power indeed, inside The Great Wall.

Limerick on April 9, 2013 at 8:53 PM

Hmm.

slickwillie2001 on April 9, 2013 at 9:13 PM

A North Korea crisis might be a good thing. It will collapse like a house-of-cards, and perhaps the “international community” (of hypocrites) can get off their backsides and end the NK concentration camps.

NK as a society does not have far to fall, so I recommend kicking away the stool and letting them hang.

The Norks are not completely nuts. Nobody has done anything to provoke them. They hope to get some freebies to keep their pantomime on the road. They can probably launch a few missiles but I doubt they can hit anything. A first launch with a nuke would be instant death for them, they have to know that. And Obama would love to be credited with saving the free world, so he’ll be ready with his finger on the buzzer.

The only thing we know they have done for sure is to fire at some SK fishing boats and worry some islands, so I don’t think nuclear is the next stage (even if they can do it). They probably need gas money for the launching trucks.

virgo on April 9, 2013 at 10:20 PM

My bet, the latter. Smart power indeed, inside The Great Wall.

Limerick on April 9, 2013 at 8:53 PM

good point.

unseen on April 9, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Deterrent
Fry the little bastard. No one will really care.
Unite the peninsula into one Korea under the flag of South Korea.
Give the infrastructure reconstruction contracts to China.
China will kiss off Lil Kim, the Koreas will again be united.
The World will be at ease and no one will mess with us for a long time to come.

jpcpt03 on April 10, 2013 at 2:01 AM