White House: North Korea is different from Cuba

December 19, 2014
President Barack Obama speaks in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, to announce the U.S. will end its outdated approach to Cuba that has failed to advance U.S. interests. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, Pool)

President Barack Obama speaks in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, to announce the U.S. will end its outdated approach to Cuba that has failed to advance U.S. interests. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, Pool)

(Yonhap) — The United States has no intention of seeking the kind of diplomatic engagement it pursued with Cuba in dealing with North Korea because Pyongyang has nuclear and missile programs, the White House said Thursday.

“Our concerns with the regime in North Korea are different than the concerns that we have with Cuba. There is no concern that the Cuban regime is, for example, developing a nuclear weapon or testing long-range missile technology,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

The principal concern the U.S. has had about Cuba was the country’s human rights record and the U.S. decided to try a new strategy to improve the situation because the previous strategy of isolating Cuba has failed, the spokesman said.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama announced his decision to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba, briefly prompting hopes for the possibility of Washington seeking a similar policy of engagement with Pyongyang. But the White House was quick to reject it.

“Our concerns about North Korea’s behavior certainly include their deplorable human rights record, but they also other things, too,” Earnest said. “It includes significant concerns with their nuclear program. It concerns the threatening statements they have made about their neighbors who happen to be strong allies of the United States of America.”

The spokesman said that the U.S. had tried to engage North Korea in the past, relaxing some sanctions on Pyongyang in exchange for the regime’s promise to take denuclearization steps. But such initiatives ultimately evaporated as the North backtracked on its commitments, he said.

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