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(2nd LD) Kim says N. Korea should be ready for both dialogue, confrontation with U.S.

All News 11:36 June 18, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more info with comments from unification ministry, experts)
By Yi Wonju

SEOUL, June 18 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the country should be ready for both dialogue and, more importantly, confrontation with the United States, while calling for efforts to stably control the situation on the Korean Peninsula, state media reported Friday.

During a key Workers' Party meeting, Kim "made detailed analysis of the policy tendency of the newly emerged U.S. administration toward our Republic and clarified appropriate strategic and tactical counteraction and the direction of activities to be maintained in the relations with the U.S. in the days ahead," according to the Korean Central News Agency.

"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 and to reliably guarantee the peaceful environment and the security of our state," it said.

Kim also called for "sharply and promptly reacting to and coping with the fast-changing situation and concentrating efforts on taking stable control of the situation on the Korean peninsula," the KCNA said of the third-day plenary meeting of the party's Central Committee.

It marked Kim's first message toward the U.S. since the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over the third-day sitting of the third plenary meeting of the eighth Central Committee of North Korea's Workers' Party in Pyongyang on June 17, 2021, to discuss the country's strategy and policy direction for the U.S., in this photo provided by the Korean Central News Agency the following day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

The Biden administration has recently completed its monthslong review of policy on the North and said it would pursue a "calibrated, practical approach" toward the goal of the complete denuclearization of the peninsula.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Biden met at a bilateral summit last month and agreed to pursue diplomacy to resolve the North's nuclear issue.

Kim's message also comes as the new U.S. special representative for North Korea, Sung Kim, is set to travel to Seoul later this week for trilateral talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts.

Experts said the absence of criticism of the U.S. signals Kim's willingness for talks.

"The North appears to have decided on the direction toward resuming talks with the U.S. within a broad framework, though it is likely to discuss with China the timing and scope," Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, said.

Lim Eul-chul, a professor at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University, said the North's emphasis on full preparation for confrontation appears intended to tighten discipline among its people.

"The fact that leader Kim Jong-un, who stayed unresponsive to the U.S. outreach for dialogue until now, has publicly sent a message to the U.S. is considered a change in itself," he said.

At Thursday's plenary meeting, Kim also discussed domestic issues on improving people's lives.

He signed a "special order" to make a contribution to stabilizing people's lives, saying that the main purpose of the plenary meeting is to take measures to immediately solve the urgent matters that are most concerning to the people.

The meeting adopted a resolution on unconditionally fulfilling the grain production plan for this year and urged the party, the military and all the people to concentrate on farming, the KCNA said.

The unification ministry said it will keep a close eye on the ongoing plenary meeting.

"The government emphasizes once again that dialogue and cooperation is the best way to stably control the situation and establish peace on the Korean Peninsula," Cha Deok-cheol, deputy spokesperson at South Korea's unification ministry, said during a regular press briefing.

The KCNA said that the meeting will continue without mentioning when it will end.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (2nd from L, front) presides over the third-day sitting of the third plenary meeting of the eighth Central Committee of North Korea's Workers' Party in Pyongyang on June 17, 2021, to discuss the country's strategy and policy direction for the U.S., in this photo provided by the Korean Central News Agency the following day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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