North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has dismissed the United States’ offer to resume a dialogue but says he is open to improving ties with South Korea.
In a speech published Thursday in North Korean state media, Kim said the willingness of the U.S. to hold talks was only a “show” to cover up what he called Washington’s “hostile policy.”
“There is no change in the U.S. military threat to and hostile policy toward us at all, and instead, their expressions and methods get more cunning,” Kim said, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has repeatedly called for North Korea to resume negotiations, stalled since 2019, on the country’s nuclear program.
Responding to Kim’s speech, the State Department stressed in an email to the VOA Korean Service that the U.S. “harbors no hostile intent” toward North Korea, whose official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“Our policy calls for a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with the DPRK to make tangible progress that increases the security of the United States, our allies, and our deployed forces. We are prepared to meet with the DPRK without preconditions. We hope the DPRK will respond positively to our outreach,” the U.S. statement read.
Kim delivered his speech Wednesday, the same day North Korea announced the details of its latest weapons test, which involved a new hypersonic missile apparently designed to evade U.S. missile defenses.
North Korea has conducted three missile tests this month, even as it signals it is open to dialogue with its neighbor South Korea.
In his speech, Kim said he would consider reestablishing communications hotlines with South Korea starting in early October.
Pyongyang opened the hotlines in late July for the first time in about a year, but it severed them two weeks later, after the U.S. and South Korea decided to move ahead with annual joint military drills that North Korea sees as a provocation.
Earlier this week, Kim Yo Jong, a senior North Korean official and sister of Kim Jong Un, said Pyongyang would also consider an inter-Korean summit as well as a formal declaration ending the Korean War of 1950-53.
The moves create a tricky situation for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a left-leaning politician who wants to resume talks with North Korea before his single presidential term expires in May.
The North’s strategy is unsurprising to many analysts, who say Pyongyang wants to both build up its nuclear deterrent and put pressure on the U.S.-South Korea alliance.
“There’s nothing new here,” said Jenny Town, a North Korea specialist with the Washington-based Stimson Center.
Though it’s not clear if the coming months will see the reestablishment of inter-Korean talks, Pyongyang has hinted it will not stop its weapons tests anytime soon.
In a speech Monday at the United Nations General Assembly, North Korean diplomat Kim Song defended his country’s nuclear missile advancement, calling it a response to the “hostile policy” of the United States and South Korea.
“Nobody can deny the righteous right to self-defense for (North Korea) to develop, test, manufacture and possess the weapons systems equivalent to the ones which are possessed or being developed by” the United States and South Korea, Kim said.
The North Korean ambassador also condemned the presence of U.S. troops in South Korea, recent U.S.-South Korea military exercises and South Korea’s military buildup.