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June 15 2021
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Previous story Analysis: Diplomatic dance or standoff? N.Korea and U.S. tread cautious line Next story
Published on May 4, 2021 5:04 AM

by Josh Smith

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While North Korea's barrage of complaints about U.S. President Joe Biden's policies over the weekend might appear to be ratcheting up tensions, some signs suggest Pyongyang hasn't ruled out diplomacy with the new team in Washington.

Few observers expect talks to resume soon - both countries are more focused on issues including the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout - and there are no easy ways to resolve their thorniest differences.

But some analysts say that despite its bluster, North Korea doesn't appear to have shut the door entirely on the Biden administration just yet.

"There are signs that Washington and Pyongyang are in the early, cautious stages of a diplomatic dance," the U.S.-based 38 North programme, which monitors North Korea, said in a report on Monday. On Sunday, North Korea released a series of official statements slamming Biden's policies and rhetoric so far as more of the same Cold War-style hostilities embraced by previous American presidents, and dismissed talk of diplomacy as an attempt to cover up those threatening policies.

The statements came after the White House on Friday said officials had concluded a policy review in which complete denuclearisation of North Korea remained the goal. It said it would explore diplomacy to that end but not seek a grand bargain with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

While North Korea mentioned the review, it did not specifically respond to the few details that have been released, a sign some analysts interpreted as evidence that Pyongyang is withholding judgement for now.