For a better understanding of American intents, North Korea’s mission to the United Nations requested Bruce Klinger, former CIA analyst and the Heritage Foundation’s expert on North Korea, to Pyongyang. Klinger declined the invitation and stated , “While such meetings are useful, if the regime wants to send a clear message, it should reach out directly to the U.S. government”.
Klinger was not the only one approached. North Korean reached out to Douglas H. Paal as well. Paal served as an Asia expert on the National Security Council under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. North Korea wanted Paal to organize meetings between North Korean officials and Americans with Republican ties in a neutral location.
Also declining the request, Paal stated, “The North Koreans are clearly eager to deliver a message. But I think they’re only interested in getting some travel, in getting out of the country for a bit”.
This wouldn’t be the first time Pyongyang has sent officials from its Foreign Ministry to hold meetings with Americans in neutral places. They have done so increasingly over the past two years.
These talks are referred to as “Track 1.5 “ talks being that they are official (Track 1) for North Korea but unofficial (Track 2) for America, although the U.S. government fully aware of the discussions.
“The North Koreans are reaching out through various channels and through various counterparts,” said Evans Revere, former State Department official. There are several theories about why North Korea is doing this. “My own guess is that they are somewhat puzzled as to the direction in which the U.S. is going, so they’re trying to open up channels to take the pulse in Washington,” Revere said. “They haven’t seen the U.S. act like this before.”
Earlier this month, Revere attended a multilateral meeting with North Korean officials. The annual event brought on extra meaning this year due to the sudden rise in tensions between North Korea and the United States.
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All countries involved in the denuclearization talks including the United States, China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas as well as Mongolia, Switzerland and the European Union.
The participants declined to speak on the topics of discussion.
It was said, the “freeze-for-freeze’ idea brought forth by China and Russia is completely off the table. This is the idea that Pyongyang would freeze its nuclear and missile activities if the U.S. stopped piloting military exercises in South Korea. This idea was also rejected by the United States, Japan and South Korea.