U.S. weighs up diplomatic options on North Korea

The United States has put both options of pressure and diplomatic talks on the table when it comes to dealing with the increasing threat of North Korea’s nuclear program.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the announcement in the South Korean capital of Seoul on Thursday (March 18), hours after a senior North Korean diplomat rejected any talks until Washington changed its policies.

"President Biden plans to complete a North Korea policy review in weeks ahead in close coordination and consultation with Republic of Korea with Japan with other key partners including reviewing pressure options and potential for future diplomacy.”

Blinken declined to elaborate when asked what approach the United States would take after the review.

He was later asked if President Biden planned to meet with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, and said "In a sense, everything is on the table. We have a very open mind about it".

The U.S. says its strategy is aimed at not only addressing security concerns, but also the quote "repressive" North Korean government's "widespread, systematic abuses" on its people.

Earlier a senior official from the North accused the U.S. of playing a "cheap trick" in its attempt to make contact with Pyongyang.

During Blinken’s first visit to South Korea as secretary of state, he also blamed China for undermining regional stability on the Korean peninsula. Although those accusations have be rebuked by Beijing.

"I would hope that whatever happens going forward, China will use that influence effectively to work on moving North Korea to denuclearization."

And called for unity among allies, despite Seoul's hesitance to provoke China, its largest economic partner and an ally of North Korea.

Accompanying Blinken on the trip was U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who later visited Seoul's National Cemetery, where he laid a wreath to honor the war dead from past conflicts.