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AFP
June 19, 2021

N Korea must prepare for ‘dialogue and confrontation’ with US: Kim

AFP
June 19, 2021

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday instructed his government to prepare for dialogue with the U.S. but also for "confrontation," citing the need "to protect the dignity of our state.

"North Korea's state news service KCNA relayed those remarks from Kim during a meeting of the government's Central Committee, specifically about "the policy tendency of the newly emerged US administration," referring to President Joe Biden.

Kim stressed "the need to further enhance the strategic position and active role of our state and create favorable external climate on our own initiatives," KCNA reported.The aggressive rhetoric serves as a startling reminder of how relations between the US and North Korea have stalled, following three summits the Trump administration organized that failed to produce any tangible positive outcomes.

A subsequent freeze in relations has been further exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, with North Korea – already isolated in its foreign policy – becoming among the most locked-down countries worldwide.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 on Friday.

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. I would not give him all he’s looking for -- international recognition".