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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Source: KCNA via Reuters.
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  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says the country should prepare for both dialogue and confrontation with the United States
  • According to state media KCNA, his remarks came during Thursday’s plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee
  • It appears part of a “wait and see” policy that avoids unnecessarily provoking the Biden administration
  • The country is in the middle of a “tense” food situation following typhoons that destroyed crops last year
  • There are also concerns that COVID-19 may have taken hold in the country despite no official acknowledgement from Kim’s regime

According to state media KCNA, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country should prepare for both dialogue and confrontation with the United States in his first direct comment on the Biden administration.

His remarks came during Thursday’s plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee, which followed an earlier session in which Kim stressed the need to address North Korea’s “tense” food situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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,” KNCA said.

No details were provided regarding a course of action.

Kim’s comments seem part of a “wait and see” policy that avoids unnecessarily provoking the Biden administration, said Vipin Narang, a nuclear affairs expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.

“It seems to suggest that Pyongyang thinks the ball is in the US court at the moment, and it is waiting to see how the Biden Administration outreach goes,” he said.

“Given reports of North Korea’s food and COVID-19 situation, one presumes that Kim is also happy to avoid a near term confrontation.”

The country is in the throes of widespread food shortages following typhoons that destroyed crops last year, adding to concerns that COVID-19 may have taken hold despite no official acknowledgement from Kim’s regime.

North Korea lashed out at the United States and its allies last month in a series of statements that said remarks from Washington on its North Korean policies were proof of a hostile approach requiring a corresponding response from Pyongyang.

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