USA outreach to North Korea getting no answer - worldwide

Katie Ramirez
March 16, 2021

"If it wants to sleep in peace for coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step", the statement read.

Yo Jong's statement also came at a time when Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Japan on Monday, March 15, on their first global trip and were set to visit South Korea on Wednesday, March 17, to rally military alliances as a bulwark against China and North Korea.

The main target of Tuesday's irate statement was South Korea, and Kim Yo Jong made it clear that even a scaled-back exercise, created to target "fellow countrymen", was unacceptable.

"War rehearsals can not coexist with dialogue, hostility can not coexist with co-operation", she said.

"This is Kim Yo Jong continuing to be the tip of the wedge North Korea tries to drive between South Korea and its United States ally", said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of global studies at Ewha University in Seoul.

Shortly before Biden's January inauguration, leader Kim decried the USA as his country's "foremost principal enemy" and Pyongyang unveiled a new submarine-launched ballistic missile at a military parade.

North Korea so far has rebuffed entreaties from the United States to engage in dialogue, the White House said on Monday, as a chill in relations that began under then-President Donald Trump has extended into Joe Biden's presidency.

Kim said that North Korea has no choice but to disband the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country handling cross-border affairs and dialogue, saying there is no reason for such an organization to exist anymore.

USA officials said on Saturday that the Biden administration had reached out to North Korea three times since mid-February but had not yet received a response.

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In Tokyo, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not respond to a reporter's request for comment on North Korea's statement.

Threats from China and North Korea will loom large over the Biden administration's first cabinet-level trip overseas, part of a larger effort to bolster U.S. influence and calm concerns about America's role in Asia.

Shin Beom-chul, a researcher at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, told AFP: "North Korea has judged that the U.S. will not offer enough concessions and so has released this statement ahead of Blinken and Austin's visit to Seoul".

A South Korean anti-war activist stages a rally against the South Korea-U.S. combined military exercise near the presidential Blue House on March 08, 2021 in Seoul, South Korea.

Blinken and Austin are expected to finalize tentative deals on financing United States troops stationed in South Korea, as well as a similar deal with Japan.

The Biden team continues to undertake a government-wide review of Washington's policy toward North Korea that US officials say is due to wrap up in the coming weeks.

"We will keep an eye on [South Korea's] attitude and behaviour, and if they become more provocative, we could take exceptional measures", she said in her statement published in Pyongyang's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.

Their first official overseas visits are meant to restore what Mr Biden hopes will be a calming and even-keeled approach to ties with Tokyo and Seoul after four years of transactional and often temperamental relations under the previous president, Donald Trump.

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However, any region that reports over 250 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents weekly will automatically be forced into lockdown. He added: "The memory of what happened last spring is vivid, and we will do everything to prevent it from happening again".

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