Bush Administration Rift Over North Korea Is Slowing U.S. Strategy, Officials Say

Senior Bush administration officials have been sharply divided over how to deal with the North Korean nuclear crisis, the Washington Post reported Sunday (see GSN, Oct. 9).

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has reportedly supported talks with Pyongyang in an effort to resolve the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula, but Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney have dismissed negotiations and are instead seeking to isolate and undermine the North Korean regime, according to the Post.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice has not always kept abreast of the rift, but reportedly favors the Rumsfeld and Cheney approach, the Post reported.

Before U.S.-Chinese-North Korean talks in April, State Department officials drew up a plan that would have allowed U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly to speak directly with the North Koreans. Kelly briefed members of the Rumsfeld-Cheney faction on the plan, and within four hours Rice had forbidden any direct talks with Pyongyang, the Post reported.

North Korea abandoned the meetings after hearing about the U.S. policy reversal, and Washington was compelled to allow direct talks for the August six-nation talks, according to the Post (Kessler/Slevin, Washington Post, Oct. 12).

October 14, 2003
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Senior Bush administration officials have been sharply divided over how to deal with the North Korean nuclear crisis, the Washington Post reported Sunday (see GSN, Oct. 9).

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