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N. Korea leaves 'many possibilities open' despite strong words at party congress

All News 17:40 January 13, 2021

SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea directed strong and unfriendly words toward South Korea and the United States during a recently concluded party congress but it still appears to be leaving "many possibilities open" for future policy directions, a top official said Wednesday.

A high-level official at the unification ministry made the assessment after the North wrapped up the eighth congress of the ruling Workers' Party the previous day.

During the sessions, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un defined the United States as the North's "foremost principal enemy" and called for strengthening the nuclear capabilities of his country.

Kim also blamed South Korea for currently chilled inter-Korean relations, saying any change in ties will depend on Seoul's attitude.

"There were some strong words but their remarks seemed toned-down ... The North appears to be leaving many possibilities open," the ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Inter-Korean relations have remained stalled since a no-deal summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in 2019. North Korea has not responded to Seoul's offers for talks or the provision of aid for its ongoing antivirus campaign.

Cross-border tensions flared up in June last year as North Korea blew up an inter-Korean joint liaison office in anger over anti-Pyongyang leafleting.

With its stance on Washington, the ministry official said the North is likely to wait and see how the incoming Joe Biden administration's policy line toward Pyongyang shapes up.

"If we look at the events since June last year, (the North) appears to be maintaining (its approach of) putting off things," the official said on condition of anonymity.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C, front) attends the final day of the eighth congress of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang on Jan. 12, 2021, in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency the next day. In his closing remarks, Kim called for strengthening the country's nuclear capabilities. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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