North Korea dismisses ‘spurious’ US diplomacy: State media

Pyongyang says US policy ‘outdated’ as Biden said he would use diplomacy and ‘stern deterrence’ to contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

North Korea's foreign ministry has accused Biden of insulting its leader Kim Jong Un, saying the US 'will get hurt' if it provokes Pyongyang [KCNA via Reuters]

North Korea branded US diplomacy “spurious” on Sunday, dismissing the idea of talks with Washington a day after the Biden administration said it was open to diplomatic negotiations on denuclearisation, state media reported.

Diplomacy was a “spurious signboard” for the United States to “cover up its hostile acts”, the North Korean foreign ministry said in a statement run by the KCNA news agency.

It also warned President Joe Biden that he had made a “big blunder” with his “outdated” stance towards the country.

In a separate statement also run by KCNA, the foreign ministry accused Biden of insulting Kim Jong Un, and added, “We have warned the US sufficiently enough to understand that it will get hurt if it provokes us.”

Biden had said in his first address as president to Congress on Wednesday that he would use “diplomacy as well as stern deterrence” to contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

On Friday, the White House also said that its goal remains “the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”, but added that the new US president is not seeking any “grand bargain” with the North Korean leader.

US policy will see “a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy” with North Korea, Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

‘Top-down diplomacy’

Psaki gave little indication of what kind of diplomatic initiative this could entail, but suggested that Biden had learned from the experience of previous administrations, who have struggled for decades to deal with the dictatorship in North Korea or, in recent years, its growing nuclear arsenal.

She said Washington would not “focus on achieving a grand bargain”, apparently referring to the kind of dramatic over-arching deal that former president Donald Trump initially suggested was possible when he met North Korea’s leader.

Neither would the White House follow the more standoff approach called “strategic patience”, espoused by Barack Obama, Psaki said.

In April, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is due to visit the White House on May 21, urged Biden to engage directly with Kim on denuclearisation.

There are ongoing concerns that North Korea might return to testing nuclear devices after it launched two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea near Japan in March [KCNA/AFP]

Moon told the newspaper he favoured “top-down diplomacy”.

Jenny Town, director of 38 North, a Washington-based North Korea monitoring programme, told Reuters news agency the broad strokes of the Biden policy sound good so far.

“But the details will matter greatly to assessing how successful the administration might be with this ‘new approach’. Not sure there’s much to say until we see more,” she said.

There are ongoing concerns that North Korea might return to testing nuclear devices. North Korea launched two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea near Japan in March.

The White House did not say whether it would offer concessions to convince North Korea to return to talks.

The Biden administration has simultaneously signalled a hard line on human rights, denuclearisation and sanctions, while making diplomatic overtures that officials say have been rebuffed by Pyongyang, which has long demanded sanctions relief.

Source: AFP, Reuters