North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says he is willing to restore severed inter-Korean hotlines by early October and, in the same remarks, accused the United States of proposing talks without changing its “hostile policy” to the country, state media reported.
Kim made the remarks on Wednesday, the second day of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament that gathers to discuss the country’s political, economic and social agenda.
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North Korea this week test-fired a previously unseen hypersonic missile, joining a heated race led by the world’s major military powers, and again demanded that Seoul and Washington scrap their “double standards” over weapons development.
Kim expressed his willingness to reconnect inter-Korean hotlines starting from October while criticising South Korea’s “delusion” over what it calls military provocations from the North.
North Korea severed the hotlines in early August in protest against joint South Korea-US military drills, just days after reopening them for the first time in a year.
The decision to reactivate the lines is to help “realise the expectations and desire of the entire Korean nation” for recovery and durable peace in cross-border relations, Kim said.
“We have neither aim nor reason to provoke South Korea and no idea to harm it,” he said, the official KCNA news agency reported on Thursday.
“It is necessary for South Korea to promptly get rid of the delusion, crisis awareness and awareness of getting harmed that it should deter the North’s provocation.”
But Kim took a tougher tone towards Washington, accusing US President Joe Biden’s administration of “employing more cunning ways and methods” in pursuing military threats and a hostile policy towards North Korea, while still offering talks.
The Biden administration has said it had reached out to Pyongyang to break an impasse over negotiations aimed at dismantling its nuclear and missile programmes in return for US sanctions relief.
“The US 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 US administrations,” Kim said.
In a statement published by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency on Thursday, the US refuted Kim’s claims and urged Pyongyang to return to dialogue.
“The United States harbours no hostile intent toward the DPRK,” a State Department spokesperson said, referring to North Korea by its official name.
“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,” the official said.
“We are prepared to meet with the DPRK without preconditions. We hope the DPRK will respond positively to our outreach.”
Analysts say the North’s carrot-and-stick approach is aimed at securing international recognition as a nuclear-armed state and driving a wedge between Seoul and Washington, taking advantage of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s desire for a diplomatic legacy before his term ends in May.
Kim Jong Un also said that in order to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War, which Moon recently suggested at the UN General Assembly, South Koreas should first withdraw its “unfair and double-dealing attitude and hostile viewpoint and policies” towards the other Korea.