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Friday, October 22, 2021

N.Korea’s Kim offers to restore inter-Korean hotline, slams US ‘hostile policy’

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.

By: Reuters |
September 30, 2021 7:23:45 am
South Korean army soldiers patrol along the barbed-wire fence in Paju, South Korea (AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he is willing to restore severed inter-Korean hotlines next month, but accused the United States of proposing talks without changing its “hostile policy” to the country, state media KCNA reported on Thursday.

Kim made the remarks at the reclusive country’s rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly, which gathered for a second day to discuss the country’s political, economic and social agenda.

North Korea this week test-fired a previously unseen hypersonic missile, joining a heated race led by 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 the South’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-U.S. 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, according to the official KCNA news agency.

“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 toward Washington, accusing President Joe Biden’s new 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 talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and missile programmes in return for U.S. sanctions relief.

“The U.S. 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 U.S. administrations,” Kim said.

Analysts say the North’s carrot-and-stick approach is aimed at securing international recognition as a nuclear weapons 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 1950-53 Korean War, which Moon recently suggested at the U.N. General Assembly, both Koreas should first withdraw “unfair and double-dealing attitude and hostile viewpoint and policies” toward each other.

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