Kim Jong Un is lashing out at the Biden administration, claiming its repeated attempts to invite North Korean officials into diplomatic talks are merely part of a deceptive plot designed to distract from America’s ongoing “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang.
While the North Korean leader says he’s willing to restore communication with U.S. ally South Korea, he expressed outward frustration at the “new administration” in Washington during a speech to members of his regime Wednesday.
“The U.S. is touting ‘diplomatic engagement’ and ‘dialogue without preconditions,’ but it is no more than a petty trick for deceiving the international community and hiding its hostile acts and an extension of the hostile policy pursued by the successive U.S. administrations,” Mr. Kim said, according to North Korean state media.
There was no immediate reaction from the Biden administration.
Mr. Kim’s remarks flew in the face of months of overtures from the White House, which continues to hold out hope for a restoration of stalled talks with the Kim regime.
Talks have been stalled for more than two years following a period of high-stakes leader-level summits between Mr. Kim and former President Donald Trump. The summits captured world attention, but ultimately failed to convince North Korea to abandon the nuclear weapons program it has clandestinely built in violation of decades of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Since coming to office nine months ago, President Biden has kept U.S. sanctions in place against North Korea and gone ahead with joint U.S.-South Korea military drills that have triggered outrage in Pyongyang, which has responded with a series of provocative missile test launches.
With headlines swirling around Mr. Kim’s latest rhetorical jabs, The Associated Press reported that the U.N. Security Council had scheduled an emergency closed meeting Thursday at the request of the United States, the U.K. and France on North Korea’s recent tests.
The news agency characterized Mr. Kim’s remarks on Wednesday as an apparent effort to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States, as the North Korean leader wants Seoul to help him win relief from crippling U.S.-led economic sanctions.
It remains to be seen how the White House will respond. The Biden administration’s Special Envoy for North Korea Policy Sung Kim said during a Sept. 13 meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Tokyo that “we hope [North Korea] will respond positively to our multiple offers to meet without preconditions.”
The administration’s handling of North Korea policy has drawn criticism from Trump-era Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who says the White House’s lack of a coherent response to Pyongyang’s provocations jeopardizes American credibility with allies who want “leadership from the United States.”
“I’m concerned that the United States is returning to an Obama-era policy of ‘Strategic Patience 2.0,’” Mr. Pompeo told an audience of dignitaries from South Korea and Japan at a virtual gathering hosted earlier this month by The Washington Times Foundation and the Universal Peace Federation.
Mr. Pompeo referred to years of waffling by the Bush and Obama administrations before an escalation of sanctions and other pressure on Pyongyang led to historic summits between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim.
“If the Biden administration continues dithering, it will only give the regime more time to undermine sanctions,” Mr. Pompeo said.