(WASHINGTON) — In what sounded like a change in tone, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland stressed diplomacy as much as use of force in dealing with North Korea at a briefing Thursday.
Nuland said several times that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea can still “make a different choice” and resume talks with the United States and regional countries that would allow the country to receive humanitarian aid and economic assistance. She mentioned the leap day agreement last year that would have allowed aid from the United States to reach the North Korean people. The deal fell apart after North Korea launched a missile last April.
“The DPRK knows what it needs to do if it wants to make a different choice. If it wants to have support from the international community economically, in terms of supporting its people, it’s got to come back into compliance with its international obligations,” said Nuland. “The president’s been clear, the secretary’s been clear that if they make a different choice, we will respond.”
Nuland did not apologize for the United States’ increased show of force in the region, reiterating that any time a regime makes threats against America, the United States must take those threats seriously. She said it’s North Korea’s actions that have been the cause of the increased tension and the U.S. has simply been responding. She said it was up to North Korea to “cool things down.”
“It was the ratcheting up of tensions on the DPRK side that caused us to need to shore up our own defense posture. We have done that,” she said.
“But we have also been saying all the way through that this does not need to get hotter, that it can — we can change course here if the DPRK will begin to come back into compliance with its international obligations, will begin to cool things down, take a pause, understand that for the future of its people, for the future of its country, the course it’s currently on is only going to lead to isolation, but there’s a better way; there’s a different way; there’s a better future.”
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