Top North Korean Nuclear Negotiator Secretly Met With U.S. Diplomats

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Media Outlet: The Wall Street Journal

Suzane DiMaggio was quoted in the Wall Street Journal about the future of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and North Korea:

For more than a year, American diplomats have held secret talks in Pyongyang and European cities with North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator, hoping to free U.S. prisoners and even establish a diplomatic channel to constrain North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

The official dispatched by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — Madame Choi Sun Hee — is well known to U.S. officials, fluent in English and is believed to have direct access to Mr. Kim. That raised expectations that the regime eventually might engage with the Trump administration about the future of Pyongyang’s weapons efforts. So did the agreed release this month of 22-year-old American prisoner Otto Warmbier, until it emerged he was in a coma.

“Given the reported status of Mr. Warmbier’s condition, any diplomatic path forward is going to be extremely difficult,” said Suzanne DiMaggio of the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank, who helped establish an unofficial channel with the North Koreans early last year. But she had a suggestion for Pyongyang to begin to repair the damage: “If the North Koreans immediately released the remaining three prisoners, it could set up an atmosphere for potentially serious talks.” 

In the News:

Suzanne DiMaggio is a director and senior fellow at New America, where she focuses on U.S. foreign policy, the Middle East, and Asia.