Home / World News / U.S. wants world to isolate North Korea, so what’s that imply? – The Denver Post

U.S. wants world to isolate North Korea, so what’s that imply? – The Denver Post

WASHINGTON — When President Donald Trump’s U.N. ambassador recently urged the world to sever diplomatic ties with North Korea, she was sketchy on the details: Should all embassies close? How about those providing the U.S. intelligence from the largely inscrutable country? And what of Sweden, which helps with imprisoned Americans?

Nikki Haley’s recent call to action underscores the challenge for the United States as it tries to advance a nonmilitary strategy for resolving the nuclear standoff with North Korea. Isolating the reclusive, totalitarian state has been a central component of the U.S. plan, even though Washington says it remains open to talks.

Like international economic penalties, the Trump administration believes the diplomatic isolation serves two purposes.

It’s designed to punish North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for developing an atomic arsenal of bombs and intercontinental missiles that potentially could deliver nuclear warheads anywhere in the United States. U.S. officials also contend that freezing out North Korea could drive Kim’s government to seek negotiations.

“We do know they care a lot about their international reputation,” said Mark Tokola, a former No. 2 at the U.S. Embassy in South Korea.

Trump’s team has chalked up some successes in narrowing the North’s diplomatic reach. Mexico, Peru, Italy, Spain, and Kuwait have expelled North Korean ambassadors from their countries. Haley said Portugal and the United Arab Emirates have suspended diplomatic relations. Others have cut trade and security ties.

But North Korea isn’t and won’t be completely isolated.

Last month, China, whose once-close relationship with North Korea has been strained by its adoption of tough U.N. sanctions, sent its highest level envoy to Pyongyang in two years. North Korea also recently welcomed a Russian parliamentary delegation, in a sign of increasing contacts between the former Cold War partners. And the North just hosted the most senior U.N. official to visit in years: Jeffrey Feltman, the undersecretary-general for political affairs.

Even before he departed, experts played down expectations that Feltman, formerly a senior American diplomat, could offer a breakthrough as the standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons threatens to spiral into war. Feltman carried no message from Washington, State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said.

Yet Feltman’s visit, which included an audience with Kim’s foreign minister, added to questions about how effectively the U.S. can isolate North Korea. Feltman left Pyongyang on Saturday after four days of talks with the North Korean Foreign Ministry. “I have to brief the secretary-general first,” he said when asked for details of his trip.

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