The war of words between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has only gotten more heated over the last few months and while Trump has been threatening the annihilation of the country others in the administration have had a quieter tone.
This has led to some confusion in North Korea and they have been reaching out to Republican analysts to try to better understand the mixed messages coming from the Trump administration.
US diplomats still say that the United States would like to see a diplomatic solution found to the ever growing problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, but it does not appear that either side is truly willing to make any concessions or even meet officially.
Experts say that the lack of diplomatic talks increases the likelihood of a potential miscalculation. However, Trump’s talk of “fire and fury” and a “devastating” military option has been publicly contradicted by some of his top advisors who are looking to strike a more cautious tone.
Now North Korea is trying to engage in what the US calls “track two” talks in order to facilitate conversation beyond formal diplomatic channels. This is nothing new, many countries have done this in the past to get a good handle on the new administration.
“I think they may have thought that reaching out to people who represent what is now the mainstream way of thinking and had who had more access to the Trump administration than people in past was a better way to send messages or get information,” said Bruce Klingner, a former CIA analyst as well as the top expert on North Korea at the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation.
“They are trying to piece together what they can about what the US policy is under the new administration,” he stated. “But even in Washington, we are often confused or have questions about what the parameters of the policies are, so imagine trying to assess Washington from further away, in Seoul, Tokyo, and Pyongyang.”
Klingner declined an invitation at the UN from North Korea to visit Pyongyang for meetings though it should be noted that he has participated in more than one conference involving North Korean officials.
“They are trying to discern what the policy is and possible triggers for red lines,” Klingner said before adding that efforts to contact conservative or Republican analysts are most likely the result of confusion over the Trump administration’s policies and conflicting statements.