Joe Biden’s envoy to the UN set to visit border with North Korea

The US ambassador to the United Nations will travel to the North Korean border as the Biden administration looks to reaffirm support for Asian allies and draw attention to a breakdown in Security Council unity over efforts to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield will become the most senior US official to visit the demilitarised zone dividing the two Koreas since Vice-President Kamala Harris went there in 2022. US mission spokesman Nate Evans said it is part of a bigger week-long trip later this month to South Korea and Japan, both of which are current members of the Security Council.

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While the trip has been planned for some time, Thomas-Greenfield heads to the region soon after Russia vetoed a US-led Security Council resolution to extend the mandate of a panel of experts that has monitored North Korea’s nuclear-weapons development for 15 years. She will also be in Washington this week for a US summit with the leaders of Japan and the Philippines.
Such extensions were once routine but have run up against growing divisions in the council between the US and Russia over the war in Ukraine and what the US says is Moscow’s push to secure weapons and ammunition from Pyongyang. North Korea also continues to make progress on its nuclear programme in defiance of numerous Security Council resolutions.

Thomas-Greenfield will be briefed by military officials at the demilitarised zone. She also plans to meet civilians, including North Korean defectors, during her trip to South Korea, Evans said.

Thomas-Greenfield will also head to Japan, where she will meet officials to discuss shared priorities at the UN. She will also hear from family members of Japanese citizens abducted by Kim Jong-un’s regime.

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