How Victor Cha Changed U.S. North Korea Policy

Victor D. Cha is a Georgetown professor who worked from late 2004 until this month as a U.S. National Security Council Asia specialist. From a May 1 Washington Post story called “NSC Post a Real-World Lesson for Cha“:

Cha, 45, will return to Georgetown this week, but his government service has had unusual impact, especially for an ivory-tower academic with no experience in policymaking.

He arrived at the White House with a reputation as an advocate for a tough approach to negotiations with North Korea — what he called “hawk engagement” — but in the end he drafted the crucial memo that helped persuade President Bush earlier this year to allow U.S. negotiators to meet for bilateral talks with their North Korean counterparts in Berlin.

The approach all but shattered the taboo on substantive bilateral negotiations that Bush had imposed since the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions erupted nearly five years ago. North Korea requested the meeting after refusing substantive talks at six-nation negotiations in December. (Pyongyang proposed Geneva as a venue, but that is where a Clinton-era agreement scorned by Bush was negotiated, so Berlin was chosen.)

(via Observing Japan’s post on the new NSC Asia staff)

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