The United States on Monday expressed hope that North Korea will return to negotiations toward the goal of denuclearization, saying the administration of President Joe Biden has made clear that it will pursue "practical" diplomacy on the issue.
"I hope that North Korea will take the opportunity to engage diplomatically and to see if there are ways to move forward toward the objective of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a joint press conference with his British counterpart Dominic Raab in London.
"We have, I think, a clear, a very clear policy that centers on diplomacy. And it is I think up to North Korea to decide whether it wants to engage or not on that basis," he added.
Blinken's remarks came as the Biden administration acknowledged Friday that it has completed its months-long policy review on North Korea, without offering much detail.
Echoing comments from the White House on Friday, Blinken said, "What we have now is a policy that calls for a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with North Korea to try to make practical progress that increases the security of the United States, our allies, and our deployed forces."
The Biden administration will "look to see not only what North Korea says but what it actually does in the coming days and months," he said.
North Korea, reacting to Biden's speech to Congress on Wednesday that called the country a "serious threat," warned over the weekend that the United States will encounter a "very grave situation" if Washington maintains its "hostile policy" toward Pyongyang.
Biden's National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said during a TV program on Sunday that the U.S. policy toward North Korea "is not aimed at hostility" and instead seeks "solutions."
"It's aimed at ultimately achieving the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and we're prepared to engage in diplomacy towards that ultimate objective," he said.
Sullivan also said, "We believe that rather than all-for-all or nothing-for-nothing, a more calibrated, practical, measured approach stands the best chance of actually moving the ball down the field towards reducing the challenge posed by North Korea's nuclear program."
The White House has signaled that its policy will seek a middle ground between the approaches taken by Biden's two most recent predecessors -- Donald Trump and Barack Obama -- both of whose administrations failed to make substantial progress in ridding Pyongyang of its nuclear arsenal.
Trump, who in 2018 became the first sitting U.S. leader to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, had pushed for a "big deal" under which all sanctions would be lifted if North Korea gave up all of its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
But North Korea had called for an incremental, action-for-action process in which Pyongyang would secure concessions such as sanctions relief for each move it made toward denuclearization.
Under the Obama administration, in which Biden served as vice president for eight years through January 2017, Washington adopted a "strategic patience" policy, designed to put more pressure on the reclusive country while waiting for it to return to denuclearization talks.