North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country must prepare for both “dialogue and confrontation” with the US — in his first direct comments on President Joe Biden’s administration.
During the plenary meeting Thursday of his ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee, Kim laid out “appropriate strategic and tactical counteraction” to deal with Washington, Reuters reported, citing state news agency KCNA.
“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,” according to the outlet.
Such moves would “reliably guarantee the peaceful environment and the security of our state,” KCNA added.
The despot’s remarks suggest he’ll likely push to strengthen his nuclear arsenal and increase pressure on Washington to give up what North Korea deems a hostile American policy, though he’ll also prepare for talks to resume, according to some experts.
In 2018-19, Kim held a series of summits with then-President Donald Trump to discuss his nukes, but their negotiations crumbled after Trump rejected his calls for extensive sanctions relief in return for a partial surrender of his nuclear capability.
The Biden administration has worked on a new approach to the rogue regime’s nuclear program that it describes as “calibrated and practical.”
Details of his North Korea policy haven’t been publicized, but US officials have suggested Biden would seek a middle ground between Trump’s direct meetings with Kim and former President Barack Obama’s “strategic patience.”
Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations issued a statement this week calling for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula — and “the verifiable and irreversible abandonment” of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
They also called on the Hermit Kingdom to engage and resume dialogue.
Kim’s remarks came two days before Sung Kim, the newly appointed US envoy for North Korea, is set to arrive in South Korea on his first visit since assuming the role last month.
He is scheduled to hold talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts and meet other Seoul officials during his stay until June 23, the State Department said Thursday.
Kim’s comments continue a “wait-and-see” policy, while refraining from provoking the US, said Vipin Narang, a nuclear affairs expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“It seems to suggest that Pyongyang thinks the ball is in the U.S. court at the moment, and it is waiting to see how the Biden administration outreach goes,” he told Reuters.
“Given reports of North Korea’s food and COVID-19 situation, one presumes that Kim is also happy to avoid a near-term confrontation,” Narang added.
Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, said Kim appeared to be sending a message to Biden that he would be willing to return to talks at some point.
“Despite mentioning confrontation, he refrained from criticizing both the South and the United States, while highlighting the need to maintain a stable geopolitical situation,” Yang told Reuters.
With Post wires