A Third Way – the United States and North Korea, by Keith Luse

[The following keynote presentation by Keith Luse was delivered at the “Engaging Enemies” Conference, co-hosted by the ANU-IU Pan Pacific Institute, the East Asia Foundation, and other co-sponsors on 18 April 2013. Keith Luse was Senior Professional Staff Member in the powerful US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As an East Asian expert, he was East Asia Foreign Policy Advisor/Senior Professional Staff Member to (former) Senator Richard Lugar. –CanKor]

keith luse

Keith Luse

During my initial trip to North Korea in 2003, at a location about an hour north of Pyongyang, one of North Korea’s top American analysts turned to me and said, “We know that Senator Lugar is a very stern person, as his facial shape is the same as President Putin in Russia.”

Three days later on an extended excursion out of Pyongyang to view sites distributing American food aid, an unexpected confrontation ensued with one of my hosts whom I angered during a discussion about U.S. policy toward their country. The North Korean official said, “We made a mistake in allowing you into my country — you are very deceptive. You have a round face of compassion like Congressman Tony Hall who has assisted us with food aid, but you have a heart of hardness.”

And so began my engagement experience with North Korean officials. Five trips and several meetings with North Koreans later — within and outside of North Korea, I am admittedly amazed that all-out conflict has not reoccurred due to a miscalculation by one side or the other. Read the rest of this entry »

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