North Korea's Kim Jong Un vows to be ready for confrontation — and dialogue — with Biden

Friday - 18/06/2021 09:49
Kim told his country "especially to get fully prepared for confrontation," state media reported.

By Alexander Smith
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told his country to prepare for "both dialogue and confrontation" with the United States, state media reported Friday — but more for confrontation.

The remarks come after months of Kim ignoring Washington's attempts to restart stalled nuclear negotiations, and are the first directed at President Joe Biden since the White House unveiled its new policy on how to deal with the threat from Pyongyang.

At a ruling party meeting Thursday, Kim gave a "detailed analysis" of Biden's North Korea policy, the state-controlled KCNA news agency reported. It said Kim "stressed the need to get prepared for both dialogue and confrontation, especially to get fully prepared for confrontation."

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This two-track approach, coupling diplomacy and militaristic threats, has been used by Kim before.

But the importance of these remarks might not be in their familiar content but rather their timing, according to Cristina Varriale, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London think tank.

"For quite a few months now the DPRK has been relatively silent on their foreign policy direction, especially in relation to the U.S. — but these comments break that silence," Varriale said, using the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

That might be because Kim has now "seen the new Biden administration settle in" and begin to sketch out its approach, Varriale added. "North Korea is now able and willing to begin publicizing its position again."

Kim's comments also come days before a visit to South Korea by Sung Kim, the top U.S. official on North Korea. He will hold a meeting with South Korean and Japanese officials in Seoul on Saturday, a trip that emphasizes the importance of those alliances, according to the State Department.

Image: Kim Jong Un made the comments during a Workers' Party meeting in Pyongyang on Thursday
Kim Jong Un made the comments during a Workers' Party meeting in Pyongyang on Thursday.KCNA via KNS / AP

In April, the White House completed its "policy review" on North Korea. Like previous administrations, it says it is aiming for "the complete denuclearization" of North Korea.

But Biden administration officials have made it clear that the approach will be different from the "grand bargain" pursued by former President Donald Trump, and the "strategic patience" favored by former President Barack Obama — both of which failed to make meaningful, long-term progress.

Trump held a series of summits with Kim in 2018 and 2019, but these fell apart after Trump rejected Kim's calls for extensive sanctions.

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 Keywords: North Korea

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