WASHINGTON — A White House official made two secret visits to North Korea last year in an unsuccessful effort to improve relations after new ruler Kim Jong Un assumed power, according to former U.S. officials familiar with the trips.
The brief visits in April and August were aimed at encouraging the new leadership to moderate its foreign policy after the death of Kim's father, longtime autocrat Kim Jong Il, in December 2011.
The ruling elite apparently spurned the outreach effort, however. This month, after a surge of fierce anti-U.S. rhetoric, the government in Pyongyang defied international warnings and conducted its third and most powerful underground nuclear test.
News of the secret trips first leaked out in the South Korean press, which said the flights from Guam to the Sunan airport in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, passed through South Korean airspace.
I've been disappointed at the lack of even giving a crap by all the parties involved. China has done nothing in terms of putting pressure on North Korea. It seems to me like that Middle East dominates foreign policy so much that other areas aren't given enough attention.