U.S. Changes Course on N.Korea

      April 24, 2009 07:53

      U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has apparently decided on a different North Korea policy from the one she planned three months ago. At a hearing by the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, Clinton clarified the administration's position on stabilization efforts in Afghanistan, Taliban expansion in Pakistan, Middle East issues, and Iran's nuclear development program. But she said nothing about North Korea, nor did she mention the six-party nuclear talks.

      In her confirmation hearing on Jan. 13, she said, "We will... act with urgency to prevent proliferation in North Korea and Iran, secure loose nuclear weapons and materials, and shut down the market for selling them." At the time, she said there could be a chance for the U.S. to have a bilateral meeting with North Korea through the six-party talks.

      But on Wednesday, in a reply to a question by Republican Rep. Dan Burton, she said, "I think we have to be strong, patient, persistent and not give in to the kind of back-and-forth, the unpredictable behavior of the North Korean regime." Three months ago, North Korea was a potential dialogue partner. Now it is now a country which the U.S. should not give in to.

      "Nobody can rule out that North Korea will launch some provocation in time with President Lee Myung-bak's scheduled visit to the U.S. in June," a diplomat in Washington speculated.

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