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North Korea says it expects both ‘dialogue and confrontation’ with Biden administration

·2 min read
Kim Jong-un speaks on 17 June during the third day of the 3rd Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang (EPA)
Kim Jong-un speaks on 17 June during the third day of the 3rd Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang (EPA)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Thursday said he expected both dialogue and confrontation with the Biden administration and urged for preparations to deal with Washington.

“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,” said the state news agency KCNA on Friday.

The North Korea leader laid out an “appropriate strategic and tactical counteraction to deal with the US”, the report said, without providing details. He also stressed the need of creating a "favourable external climate” for North Korea’s own initiatives.

Mr Kim’s first direct comments on the Biden administration came during a detailed analysis of its North Korea policy at Thursday’s plenary meeting of his ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee.

The remarks also come just two days before the arrival in South Korea of the newly appointed US envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, 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 23 June.

In May, Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in injected fresh urgency into efforts to bring the North back to the table of denuclearisation talks.

Vipin Narang, a nuclear affairs expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, said the North Korean leader’s comments continue a "wait and see" policy while refraining from provoking the Biden administration.

“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,” Mr Narang said.

Experts also believe that North Korea is not looking to stoke any confrontation in the immediate future considering the serious issues it is facing at home, including what the Kim food shortage.

On Tuesday, while chairing a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee, Kim Jong-un had admitted that the country needed to tackle a “tense” food situation caused by the pandemic and last year’s typhoons.

Additional reporting by agencies

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