The diplomatic relationship between the US and North Korea took an intriguing turn earlier this month. In Pyongyang, the National Defense Commission — perhaps the country's most powerful government body — issued a statement titled "US Imperialists Will Face Final Doom." In typical saber-rattling rhetoric, the statement said North Korea is no longer willing to "sit at the negotiating table" with the US.
That was nothing new. But on the opposite side of the globe on the same day, at a briefingat the State Department's Foreign Press Center in New York, a senior US official was cautiously optimistic when discussing the possibility of North Korea opening up to the world, enacting reforms, and shedding its ignominious Hermit Kingdom status.
Fielding two questions about North Korea — including one about Pyongyang's latest threat to respond to any perceived US aggression with a nuclear strike and cyber warfare — Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said the US is still willing to talk, and that "change in North Korea does not need to be regime change."
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