She said Washington would not "focus on achieving a grand bargain", apparently referring to the kind of dramatic over-arching deal that former president Donald Trump initially suggested was possible when he met with North Korea's leader. But Psaki's suggestion that the administration won't rely on "strategic patience" in its approach suggests that Biden may be shifting toward a more middle-ground approach between that of Obama and Trump's deeply personal effort to persuade Kim to denuclearize for sanctions relief.
Press secretary Jen Psaki announced on Friday that administration officials had completed a review of USA policy toward North Korea, seen as one of the greatest and most vexing national security threats facing the US and its allies.
"So for the USA to keep emphasizing the threat, it keeps focus on the negative aspects of the relationship and will elicit negative responses", she said.
The White House said Friday that its goal remains "the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula".
Biden, like his old boss Obama, has confirmed that he sees North Korea as perhaps the most delicate foreign policy quandary for the United States and its allies.
The Washington Post first reported Friday that the Biden Administration made a decision to pursue a phased agreement with North Korea that leads to full denuclearization. Psaki said officials consulted outside experts, allies and predecessors from several previous administrations as part of the process.
A former senior USA official said the most practical way forward, and one that the Biden administration is inclined toward, is a phased denuclearization, in which positive North Korean actions would be met with eased sanctions at each step.
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A phased approach to denuclearization was tried under Obama predecessor President George W. Bush, with the USA engaging with North Korea through the so-called six-party talks that also included China, Japan, Russia and North Korea.
She added that the USA would continue to consult with the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan, and other allies and partners on this issue.
The US is expected to host Japan and South Korea's national security advisers for a discussion about the review soon.
On May 21 Biden is due to have his first meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has pushed for more engagement with North Korea. The move came after Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, had demanded the government ban provocative activities from North Korean defectors that could deteriorate the relationship between the two Koreas. Pyongyang wants the United States and its allies to lift economic sanctions imposed over its weapons programs.
On April 15, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius quoted a senior administration official as saying the likelihood of North Korea giving up nuclear weapons right now was "close to zero" and the administration was seeking interim "way stations", such as halting weapons proliferation and checking North Korea's development of new delivery systems like submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
During the trip, Blinken sternly criticized North Korea's nuclear program and human rights record and pressed China to use its "tremendous influence" to convince the North to denuclearize.