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Biden said that in order to meet, his administration needed to “know exactly” what was going to be discussed, which contrasts with Trump’s free-running approach to international relations with both America’s allies and enemies. In March, Biden said North Korea was the United States’ top foreign policy problem.
Biden also announced on Friday that he would appoint Sung Kim as special envoy for North Korea and said the US was ready to engage diplomatically. Kim was previously the US ambassador to South Korea in the Obama administration.
At the press conference, Biden also promised that around 550,000 South Korean soldiers who are in “close contact” with American military personnel would receive Covid-19 vaccinations.
“Both for them and for the American armed forces,” added Biden. “We with advanced capabilities are committed to doing everything we can to protect the world.”
Trump has previously defended his actions with North Korea, claiming former President Barack Obama is “so close to starting a major war with North Korea”. Obama had told Trump that North Korea should be his top national security priority.
Trump met with Kim three times during his presidency, including a trip to North Korea in 2019 when he was the first seated U.S. president to take such a trip. Trump’s efforts with Kim, which included promoting a “nice letter” from the Führer, ultimately failed because of pushing the country to denuclearize.
In a 2018 meeting, Trump signed a somber statement to try to push denuclearization forward. At a meeting in February 2019, Trump prematurely canceled the summit after saying he could not support Kim’s proposal to lift sanctions on moderate restrictions on the country’s nuclear program.
Tensions between the two countries increased in 2017, and Trump threatened “fire and anger” in a tweet about North Korea’s nuclear program.
Critics of Trump among current and former U.S. officials previously told POLITICO that Trump’s approach to North Korea should focus more on subordinate officials, not just Kim.
A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.