‘Dialogue’ or ‘confrontation’
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged preparation for both dialogue and confrontation with the United States, particularly the latter, state news agency KCNA said yesterday, in his first direct comment on US President Joe Biden's administration.
Kim laid out "appropriate strategic and tactical counteraction" to deal with Washington in a detailed analysis of its North Korea policy at Thursday's plenary meeting of his ruling Workers' Party's central committee, KCNA said.
"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."
Such moves would "reliably guarantee the peaceful environment and the security of our state," it added. Kim also emphasized the need to create a "favourable external climate" for the North's own initiatives.
The report gave no details of any course of action, however.
Kim's remarks came two days before the newly appointed US envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, is set to arrive in South Korea on his first visit since taking up the role last month.
He will hold talks with South Korean and Japanese counterparts and meet other Seoul officials during his stay until June 23, the State Department said on Thursday.
Kim's comments continue a "wait and see" policy, while refraining from provoking the Biden administration, said Vipin Narang, a nuclear affairs expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.
"It seems to suggest that Pyongyang thinks the ball is in the US court at the moment, and it is waiting to see how the Biden administration outreach goes," he said. "Given reports of North Korea's food and Covid-19 situation, one presumes that Kim is also happy to avoid a near-term confrontation."
Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said Kim appeared to be sending a message to US that he would be willing to return to talks at some point.