North Korea’s Kim says he’s ready for ‘both dialogue and confrontation’ with US

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged preparation for both dialogue and confrontation with the United States, particularly the latter, state news agency KCNA said on Friday, in his first direct comment on US President Joe Biden’s administration.

Kim laid out “appropriate strategic and tactical counteraction” to deal with Washington in a detailed analysis of its North Korea policy at Thursday’s plenary meeting of his ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee, KCNA said.

“The general secretary stressed the need to get prepared for both dialogue and confrontation, especially to get fully prepared for confrontation, in order to protect the dignity of our state and its interests for independent development.”

Such moves would “reliably guarantee the peaceful environment and the security of our state,” it added. Kim also emphasised the need to create a “favourable external climate” for the North’s own initiatives.

The report gave no details of any course of action, however.

Kim’s remarks came two days before the newly appointed US. envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, was set to arrive in South Korea on his first visit since taking up the role last month.

He will hold talks with South Korean and Japanese counterparts and meet other Seoul officials during his stay until June 23, the State Department said on Thursday.

Kim’s comments continue a “wait and see” policy, while refraining from provoking the Biden administration, said Vipin Narang, a nuclear affairs expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.

“It seems to suggest that Pyongyang thinks the ball is in the US court at the moment, and it is waiting to see how the Biden administration outreach goes,” he said.

“Given reports of North Korea’s food and COVID-19 situation, one presumes that Kim is also happy to avoid a near-term confrontation.”

In their first summit in May, Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in injected fresh urgency into efforts to bring the North back to denuclearisation negotiations.

Diplomats and analysts say the North is experiencing widespread food shortages after typhoons destroyed crops last year, while there are concerns COVID-19 may have taken hold, despite lack of official acknowledgement by Kim’s regime.

Kim, centre, recently warned about possible food shortages and called for his people to brace for extended COVID-19 restrictions.Credit:KCNA/AP

Border closures have further hit an economy already battered by international sanctions.

The North’s neighbour and ally, China, encourages both sides to come up with an “operable” road-map toward denuclearisation, said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman of its foreign ministry.


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