Korea issues Joseph Yun to retire

U.S. special representative for North Korea policy

Kim told Seoul officials earlier this week that "the door for dialogue with the U.S.is open".

The recent loss of key diplomatic voices - such State Department official Joseph Yun and the onetime pick for U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Victor Cha - could also precipitate a more hawkish consensus within the White House, according to CNN military analyst John Kirby. The ambassador post in South Korea has been vacant for the past year, adding to questions about the direction of USA policy as Trump has vacillated between talk of war and willingness to speak directly with leader Kim Jong Un.

Many were surprised by his sudden departure, given that Yun recently visited South Korea and Japan to discuss solutions to the North Korea crisis as the regime continues to develop its nuclear program and threaten war against America.

The special envoy's authority to engage with North Korea appeared to be undercut by a tug-of-war between the White House and State Department over North Korea policy under Mr Trump.

"It was completely my decision to retire at this time", Yun said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Yun retired for personal reasons, which the diplomat confirmed.

"It is really my decision".

"I think there was a missed opportunity here to at least "talk about talks", former Associated Press Pyongyang bureau chief Jean Lee told Fox News.

The Trump administration is considering military action against North Korea if the rogue regime successfully builds a nuclear missile capable of hitting the United States, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the administration's latest thinking.

The North hasn't tested a nuclear device or ballistic missile for months.

"I don't see any kind of policy that will achieve the desired result, a non-nuclear North Korea", Lankov concluded.

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Regarding the possibility of U.S. "A huge loss for the US government at a critical moment". "It could also have policy implications and a message to Pyongyang", a third South Korean official said.

"North Korea has never begged the United States for talks and will do no such thing in the future", the article stated.

"This is exceptionally bad news", Frank Jannuzi, an East Asia expert who heads the Mansfield Foundation, said on Twitter. "He is joining a large exodus of senior State Department officials who will be hard to replace".

One last hope is the Paralympic Winter Games in South Korea, set to begin March 8.

Trump on Monday reiterated his willingness to talk, but only under the right conditions. We want to talk also, only under the right conditions.

Last Friday, the USA slapped new sanctions on North Korea, targeting 56 vessels, shipping companies, and trade businesses, of which Chinese firms and personnel are involved.

Mr Trump warned of a "phase two" that could be "very, very unfortunate for the world" if the steps did not work, an apparent reference to military options his administration says remain on the table.

A senior State Department official told Reuters late a year ago that Yun had sought direct diplomacy with North Korean officials at the United Nations in the hope of lowering the temperature in U.S.

Most were deeply sceptical about his chances.

In November a year ago, Reuters quoted a White House official as saying, with a note of sarcasm, "He's such a dreamer".

Yun visited Pyongyang in June to secure the release of US college student Otto Warmbier, who had been imprisoned for 17 months for stealing a propaganda poster.

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