The United States’ top diplomat handling the Korean peninsula — a 30-year foreign policy veteran — has abruptly resigned, citing personal reasons, the State Department said Tuesday.
Joseph Yun, special representative for North Korean policy and regarded as a tireless negotiator, informed the State Department of his decision, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “reluctantly accepted” the resignation, State spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
Nauert said that despite the loss of a key point man, and while there is still no U.S. ambassador to South Korea or confirmed assistant secretary of State for the region, “our diplomatic efforts regarding North Korea will continue based on our maximum pressure campaign to isolate” the government of leader Kim Jong Un.
The goal of economic and political sanctions, she added, was to force Pyongyang to agree “to begin credible talks” aimed at halting its development of nuclear weapons.
Yun joins a long list of experienced diplomats and other officials who have abandoned the State Department amid the Trump administration’s efforts to drastically slash the budget and downgrade the role of U.S. foreign policy on the global stage, critics say.
The candidate under consideration for the ambassadorship to Seoul, academic and former National Security Council official Victor Cha, was suddenly withdrawn earlier this year reportedly after he voiced reservations about a possible plan to launch a limited “bloody nose” military strike against North Korea.
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