Negotiating With North Korean Officials
Victor Cha is the former Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, where he served as an advisor to the President from 2004-2007. The recipient of two Outstanding Service Commendations during his tenure at the White House, Cha is also the award-winning author of Alignment Despite Antagonismand Beyond the Final Score: The Politics of Sport in Asia. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs,International Security, and Political Science Quarterly, among other journals. As an expert on North Korea, he has been interviewed on many national news outlets, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, PBS News,and he has written on the topic for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the LosAngeles Times, and for USA Today. Cha currently holds the D.S. Song Chair in Government in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
Photo Credit: Kaveh Sardari
Victor Cha: So you might be wondering what it’s like to be negotiating with North Korean officials. Contrary to what you might believe, they don't have horns on their head. The people that we negotiated with tend to be people from the foreign ministry who cover North American affairs. And they tend to be quite well-educated. They speak English. They ask questions about our primary process. They ask questions about Barack Obama or Mitt Romney or Ron Paul or Newt Gingrich. They are not devils in any way. They are simply the cream of the crop of their foreign ministry that are trying to make deals to get what they want from the United States in these nuclear negotiations.
Now, having said that, there's clearly something that we want from North Korea, and there's something they want from us. It’s a very difficult negotiation because we are often seeking for them to give up all of their nuclear weapons, and they have a very long list of things they want from us. So the negotiation itself is quite complex and at times very difficult, long hours, very little sleep. But, in the end, I mean, they are human beings representing their government and they operate, in that sense, according to regular diplomatic protocols.
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