- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2021

North Korea‘s short-range missile tests last weekend fall within the bounds of “normal military activity” and will not halt U.S. efforts to restart diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang, Biden administration officials said Tuesday evening.

In a conference call with reporters, a senior administration official said the U.S. and its allies — most notably, Japan and South Korea — take the missile tests seriously but do not believe they represent a serious concern

North Korea has a familiar menu of provocations when it wants to send a message to the administration,” the official said. “Experts rightly recognize what took place last weekend as falling on the low end of that spectrum.”

The Washington Post first reported last weekend’s short-range missile tests, and the administration appeared eager Tuesday to downplay the incident.

“It is a normal part of the kind of testing North Korea would do,” the senior administration official said, adding that the tests did not violate any United Nations prohibition on North Korean military activities.

Meanwhile, the administration is consulting with a host of experts, veteran diplomats and international partners in developing its North Korea approach. 

“We’ve also had a series of conversations with Trump administration officials to get their sense of how their diplomacy with North Korea worked out over the last four years,” the official said. “And we’ve been in touch with virtually every official who has been involved with North Korea since the mid-1990s.”

During his time in office, former President Trump held multiple in-person meetings with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in the hopes of securing a deal that would permanently end Pyongyang‘s nuclear-weapons program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Those meetings ultimately did not result in a deal.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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