Bosworth Named Special Envoy to North Korea
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed the dean of The Fletcher School and former U.S. ambassador to South Korea to lead American policy on the Communist state.
Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.23.09] On Feb. 20, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed Stephen Bosworth, dean of The Fletcher School and former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, to lead Washington's nuclear negotiations with North Korea. Bosworth will also deal with North Korean human rights and humanitarian issues.
"We need a capable and experienced diplomat to lead our efforts to stem the risks of North Korea's nuclear ambitions and the proliferation of sensitive weapons technology, and its human rights and humanitarian challenges," Clinton said in remarks made during her trip to Seoul, South Korea. "Ambassador Bosworth is up to the task of working with our allies and partners to convince North Korea to become a constructive part of the international community rather than a threat to its neighbors."
Agence France Press described the appointment as "a new high-level post designed to press Pyongyang on nuclear disarmament and human rights."
Bosworth, who served as U.S. ambassador to South Korea from 1997 to 2000, will report directly to Clinton and President Barack Obama. In this role, he will also serve as the American representative to the six-party talks with South Korea, Japan, China and others on North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The talks have been stalled in recent months.
"Bosworth's appointment, in the view of some analysts, has the potential to raise the tempo of negotiations," according to The Christian Science Monitor. The newspaper noted that, in contrast to the previous top U.S. diplomat to North Korea, Christopher Hill, who also served as assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, Bosworth "will be able to focus solely on North Korea."
Tong Kim, a professor at Ilmin Institute of International Relations at Korea University and Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, wrote in the Korea Times that Bosworth's appointment was "another important step forward in resolving the North Korean issue. It is an encouraging sign of the Obama administration's seriousness commitment to the denuclearization of North Korea."
Thomas Hubbard, Bosworth's successor as U.S. ambassador to South Korea from 2001 to 2004, said during remarks at a forum in Seoul that Bosworth was "a tough negotiator with deep experience" who won't "cozy up" to North Korea's nuclear ambitions, according to the National Journal Group's Global Security Newswire.
Bosworth has remained engaged with issues concerning North Korea during his tenure at The Fletcher School. Earlier in February, he visited the Communist state in a non-official capacity and returned encouraged that North Korea was willing to re-engage in the six-party talks, according to the Korea Times.
In the May 12, 2008, issue of Newsweek, Bosworth co-authored an article with U.S. diplomat and former ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz that urged the United States to deal with North Korea on issues beyond its nuclear ambitions.
"It falls to the next administration, one hopes, to devise a strategy toward Pyongyang that addresses both the nuclear program and the long-term question of how to deal with the weak but dangerous nation," Bosworth and Abramowitz wrote in the article.
Last April, Bosworth hosted a luncheon at Fletcher for former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who promoted reconciliation with the North through his "sunshine" policy.
With the appointment, reported Reuters, Bosworth-who will remain dean of The Fletcher School-"steps back into the diplomatic spotlight after an award-winning career in and around Asia's trouble spots."
From 1995 to 1997, Bosworth was executive director of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, an inter-governmental organization established by the United States, South Korea, and Japan to promote peace and stability between the Koreas. He also served as U.S. ambassador to the Philippines from 1984 to 1987 and received the American Academy of Diplomacy's Diplomat of the Year Award in 1987.