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Kim Jong-un’s headlong pursuit of nuclear missiles capable of striking the continental United States has put North Korea on a collision course with the U.S. and its allies, alienated China, and frightened the world. With tensions flaring, diplomacy is widely seen as the best tool to avert another bloody conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that the U.S. is “ready to talk any time…without preconditions,” but President Trump cautioned him not to “waste his time.” On New Year’s Day, North Korea abruptly offered talks with the South in conjunction with the Olympics, but ruled out any discussion of its nuclear weapons.
Past negotiations have achieved limited, but transitory success. In 1994, as tensions on the Korean Peninsula reached a crisis point, Robert Gallucci negotiated a landmark “Agreed Framework” deal with North Korea that halted its plutonium enrichment program and allowed UN inspectors into the country. A decade later, after the revelation of a secret North Korean uranium-based nuclear program, Christopher Hill helped negotiate a Six-Party Joint Statement between six countries, which combined a North Korean commitment to abandon its nuclear program with an American security guarantee not to attack or invade North Korea.
Why were these diplomatic efforts ultimately unable to compel Pyongyang to relinquish its nuclear program? What is it really like to negotiate with North Korean officials? Is diplomacy a viable option for dealing with a nuclear armed millennial dictator?
Join the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) for a special program with two distinguished diplomats who have each negotiated key agreements with North Korea: Ambassadors Robert Gallucci and Christopher Hill. The discussion will be moderated by ASPI’s Diplomat in Residence Daniel Russel, who has dealt extensively with the North Korea challenge in his career as a U.S. diplomat. Given their extensive firsthand experience, the panelists are uniquely qualified to discuss lessons learned from previous diplomatic initiatives and review the prospects and pitfalls of negotiating with North Korea in 2018.
Robert Gallucci is a Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University and Chairman of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. He was Director of the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and President of the MacArthur Foundation for five years. He did more than twenty years of government service as Ambassador at Large, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Deputy Executive Chairman of UNSCOM (the UN organization charged with the disarmament of Iraq after the first Gulf War), and Deputy Director General of the MFO, the Sinai peacekeeping force. He is the author of Neither Peace Nor Honor: US Military Policy in Vietnam and co-author of Going Critical: the First North Korean Nuclear Crisis.
Christopher Hill is Chief Adviser to the Chancellor for Global Engagement and Professor of the Practice in Diplomacy at the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Previously, he was Dean of the Korbel School. A former career diplomat, Hill's last post was as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq from 2009 to 2010. Prior to that post, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2005 until 2009, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Poland, and the Republic of Macedonia, as well as Special Envoy to Kosovo. He also served as a Special Assistant to the President and a Senior Director at the National Security Council from 1999 to 2000. He is the author of Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy: A Memoir.
Daniel Russel (Moderator) is Diplomat in Residence and Senior Fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service at the U.S. Department of State, he served until recently as the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Prior to his appointment as Assistant Secretary, he served at the White House as Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council’s Senior Director for Asian Affairs. During his tenure there, he helped formulate President Obama’s strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.
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