North Korea warns US not to ’cause a stench’ ahead of Seoul meeting


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – In North Korea’s first remarks to the Biden administration, Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister on Tuesday warned the United States to “refrain from causing a bad smell” if it wants to “sleep. in peace “during the next. four years.

Kim Yo Jong’s statement was issued when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Asia to speak with US allies Japan and South Korea about Korea. North and other regional matters. They have meetings in Tokyo on Tuesday before speaking with officials in Seoul on Wednesday.

“We take this opportunity to warn the new US administration that is striving to spread the smell of gunpowder (of weapons) in our land,” he said. “If you want to sleep peacefully for the next four years, you better refrain from causing a stench in the first step.”

Kim Yo Jong, a senior official who handles inter-Korean affairs, also criticized the United States and South Korea for holding military exercises. He also said North Korea would consider abandoning a 2018 bilateral agreement to reduce military tensions and abolish a decades-old ruling party unit tasked with handling inter-Korean relations if it no longer had to cooperate with South Korea.

He said North Korea would also consider dismantling an office that handled South Korea’s tours of North Korea’s scenic Diamond Mountain, which Seoul suspended in 2008 after a North Korean guard shot dead a South Korean tourist.

North Korea “will observe the attitude and future actions of the (South Korean) authorities” before deciding whether to take exceptional measures against its rival, it said in its statement published in Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.

The challenges posed by North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and China’s growing influence loom large in the Biden administration’s first trip abroad, as part of a larger effort to bolster US influence and defuse concerns about the US. America’s role in Asia after four years of President Donald Trump ”. Focus on America first ”.

A senior Biden administration official said Saturday that US officials have attempted to communicate with North Korea through multiple channels since last month, but have yet to receive a response. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss the diplomatic approach and spoke on condition of anonymity.

“This is Kim Yo Jong who remains the tip of the gap that North Korea is trying to drive between South Korea and its American ally,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha University in Seoul. “The latest threats from North Korea mean that the allies have very little time to coordinate their approaches on deterrence, sanctions and engagement.”

Biden’s presidency begins as Kim Jong Un faces perhaps the most difficult moment of his nine-year rule. His country’s battered economy has further deteriorated amid pandemic border closures, while his summits with Trump failed to lift crippling sanctions.

While Kim in recent political speeches has vowed to strengthen his nuclear weapons program, he has also said that the fate of US relations depends on Washington’s actions.

The 2018 military accord, which had been the most tangible outcome of the three summits between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, requires countries to take steps to reduce conventional military threats, such as the establishment of barriers. border areas on land and sea and not -Zones of flies.

But inter-Korean relations have been ruined amid the stalemate in nuclear diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang.

The armies of South Korea and the United States began annual military exercises last week that continue through Thursday. The drills are command post exercises and computer simulation and do not involve field training. They said they conducted the reduced drills after reviewing factors such as the COVID-19 status and diplomatic efforts to resume nuclear talks with North Korea.

But Kim Yo Jong said that even the smallest drills are an act of hostility towards the North. In the past, the North has often responded with drills between the United States and South Korea with missile tests.

“(War drills) and hostility can never accompany dialogue and cooperation,” he said.

Boo Seung-chan, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, said the combined exercises were defensive in nature and called for North Korea to show a “more flexible attitude” that would be constructive in stabilizing peace on the Korean peninsula. He said the Southern army was not detecting any unusual signs of military activity from the North.

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