(Yonhap Interview) Trump will reset bilateral relationship with N. Korea: U.S. researcher

President-elect Donald Trump will kick off his presidency by resetting bilateral relations with regional leaders, including North Korea's Kim Jong-un, which will facilitate a "departure" from the past diplomatic landscape, a Korean-American lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School said Wednesday.

"Foreign policy, international affairs, these are elements that are very new to this new leader and his team. From this perspective, we are gonna see initially the development of relationships among and between leaders rather than addressing of issues," John Park, adjunct lecturer in public policy, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.

The lecturer is currently in the country leading a delegation of next-generation security and diplomacy experts from the U.S. to take part in a week-long program hosted by the Korea Foundation.

"So from that (process), we will get to see more of the context in terms of what issues will be prioritized and how this type of issue will be negotiated," Park, who is also a faculty affiliate with the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said.

The Trump administration's leader-to-leader approach would mark "a distinct departure" from the past where policy decisions have been made in a multilateral setting or at the government-to-government level, Park noted.

"I think we are gonna see something of hierarchy, specifically with decisions and conversations happening at the leader-to-leader level and then filtering down of those decisions," he said of the businessman-turned-president-elect.

How Trump would reshape the U.S. policy toward North Korea's nuclear development has been of keen interest as the international community gears up for the implementation of a fresh set of United Nations sanctions over North Korea's recent nuclear test on Sept. 9.

Last week, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 2321, slapping a strict ban on North Korea's coal exports to China, in a bid to deplete the North's foreign currency holdings.

From China's perspective, their primary focus would be on potential negative fallout from the resolution on economic development in three Chinese provinces bordering with North Korea, Park said. "There will be great focus to make sure that unintentionally Resolution 2321 doesn't affect or hurt the economic development activities of these Chinese provinces."

At the same time, however, Beijing is concerned about North Korea's illicit procurement in China, which benefits the North's nuclear and missile program, he said, adding that "So there will be a fine management in term of implementation."

Still, there are important policy opportunities to influence China's implementation efforts, he said, citing Beijing's punishment of Chinese company Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development for selling nuclear weapons components to North Korea. The decision was made on revelations from information provided through a joint research by South Korean and U.S. think tanks.

"There's an opportunity to do more of that type of research and provide that kind of information to Chinese authorities," he noted.

Overall, South Korea and the U.S. need a strategy broader than sanctions in dealing with North Korea's nuclear program, he also pointed out. "What you see is that the North Korean regime finds ways to get around sanctions measures ... Sanctions, if applied more and more, forces the North Korean regime to develop better ways to procure, better ways to do things they need and we need to factor that into our calculus as well," he said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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