North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said the country must prepare for both “dialogue and confrontation” with the United States, but with a particular emphasis on the latter as Pyongyang probes for any US policy shift under President Joe Biden.
It was Kim’s first reaction to the Biden administration’s recent review of its North Korean strategy that promised a “practical, calibrated approach” – including diplomatic efforts – to persuade Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear and missile programme.
Since Biden’s election, the two countries have adopted something of a strategic wait-and-see attitude following the diplomatic roller-coaster ride under Donald Trump that produced three historic summits with Kim but no agreement on dismantling the North’s nuclear arsenal.
Kim “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 reliably guarantee a “peaceful environment”, state news agency KCNA said yesterday.
Kim’s comments at Thursday’s central committee meeting signal a wait and see approach where the “ball is now in the US’s court” to push for either dialogue or confrontation, Hong Ming from the Korea Institute for National Unification, told AFP.
Pyongyang had already accused Biden of pursuing a “hostile policy” and saying it was a “big blunder” for the veteran Democrat to say he would deal with the threat posed by the North’s nuclear programme “through diplomacy as well as stern deterrence”.
Biden said he “would not meet” Kim without a concrete plan for negotiating on Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal, during a visit to Washington last month by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. He also made a clear criticism of Trump’s chummy relationship with Kim, saying he “would not do what had been done in the recent past. ”
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