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North Korea’s Kim vows to be ready for confrontation with US

Seoul – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said his country needs to prepare for “both dialogue and confrontation” with the US under President Joe Biden, state media reported today.

At a plenary meeting of the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea yesterday, Kim outlined his strategy for relations with Washington, and the “policy tendency of the newly emerged US administration”, the Korean Central News Agency said.

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”, KCNA reported.

The North Korean leader “called for sharply and promptly reacting to and coping with the fast-changing situation and concentrating efforts on taking stable control of the situation on the Korean peninsula”, the agency said.

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’s predecessor Donald Trump made headlines – but little diplomatic progress – with a series of face-to-face meetings with Kim, a policy that Biden says he will not pursue unless the terms change dramatically.

During a visit to Washington last month by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Biden said he “would not meet” Kim unless there was a concrete plan for negotiating on Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal.

And he 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”.

The White House says it is now pursuing “a calibrated practical approach” – diplomatic jargon, it seems, for being realistically low-key, while open-minded.

“We understand where previous efforts in the past had difficulties and we’ve tried to learn from those,” a senior White House official said. — AFP

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