North Korea's Kim says to prepare for 'both dialogue and confrontation' with US: KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
PHOTO: Reuters

SEOUL - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the country should prepare for both dialogue and confrontation with the United States, particularly confrontation, state media KCNA reported on Friday (June 18), in his first direct comment on the Biden administration.

The remarks came during Thursday's plenary meeting of the ruling Workers' Party's central committee, after an earlier session where Kim called for measures to tackle the "tense" food situation arising from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Kim had made a detailed analysis of the policy of the administration of US President Joe Biden towards Pyongyang and laid out "appropriate strategic and tactical counteraction" with the United States, 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," KCNA said. Kim also emphasized the need to create a "favorable external climate" for the North's own initiatives.

It did not provide details of any course of action.

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.

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"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."

Diplomats and analysts say the North is experiencing widespread food shortages following typhoons that destroyed crops last year, while there are concerns Covid-19 may taken hold in the country despite no official acknowledgement by Kim's regime.

Border closures have further hit the economy already battered by international sanctions. 

Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held their first summit in May, injecting fresh urgency into efforts to engage the North in talks on its nuclear weapons.

On Wednesday, Kim said the overall economy had improved in the first half of the year, with total industrial output growing 25 per cent from a year before, but called for measures to tackle the "tense" food situation caused by the pandemic.

North Korea lashed out at the United States and its allies in South Korea last month in a series of statements saying comments from Washington on its North Korean policy were proof of a hostile policy that required a corresponding response from Pyongyang.