The Straits Times
Published on Feb 12, 2013

N. Korea test seen as setback to new US approach


WASHINGTON (AFP) - North Korea's third nuclear test looks likely to set back any new diplomatic drive from the United States, which had seen glimmers of hope with the new cast of leaders in the region.

The renewed crisis comes just as all three key regional players - China, Japan and South Korea - go through transitions to leaders who in varying ways have hinted they are seeking new ways to handle the regional pariah.

US President Barack Obama has made engagement a key priority in his foreign policy, but had largely given up hope on North Korea and embraced what his aides called "strategic patience" - waiting for change from the regime.

Administration officials had hoped for fresh ideas from South Korean president-elect Park Geun-Hye, but calls during her electoral campaign to reach out to North Korea will be complicated at the very least by the nuclear test.