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N. Korea says Biden policy shows U.S. intent on being hostile, vows response

SEOUL (Reuters) -Recent comments from U.S. President Joe Biden and members of his administration show he is intent on maintaining a hostile policy toward North Korea that will require a corresponding response from Pyongyang, North Korean officials said on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: A North Korean soldier looks toward the south as a South Korean soldier stands guard in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, South Korea, August 28, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Pool

The officials’ comments came in a series of statements carried on state news agency KCNA, after the White House on Friday said U.S. officials had completed a months-long review of North Korean policy.

In one statement, a Foreign Ministry spokesman accused Washington of insulting the dignity of the country’s supreme leadership by criticizing North Korea’s human rights situation.

The human rights criticism is a provocation that shows the United States is “girding itself up for an all-out showdown” with North Korea, and will be answered accordingly, the unnamed spokesman said.

In a separate statement, Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the Department of U.S. Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, cited Biden’s first policy speech to Congress on Wednesday, where the new president said nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran posed threats that would be addressed through “diplomacy and stern deterrence.”

Kwon said it is illogical and an encroachment upon North Korea’s right to self-defense for the United States to call its defensive deterrence a threat.

Biden’s speech was “intolerable” and “a big blunder,” Kwon said.

“His statement clearly reflects his intent to keep enforcing the hostile policy toward the DPRK as it had been done by the U.S. for over half a century,” he said, using the initials for North Korea’s official name.

Under the policy announced on Friday, Biden has settled on a new approach to pressuring North Korea to give up nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that will explore diplomacy but not seek a grand bargain with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the White House said.

The White House and State Department did not immediately comment on the latest North Korean statements.

In Sunday’s statement, Kwon Jong Gun said U.S. talk of diplomacy is aimed at covering up its hostile acts, and its deterrence is just a means for posing nuclear threats to North Korea.

Now that Biden’s policy has become clear, North Korea “will be compelled to press for corresponding measures, and with time the U.S. will find itself in a very grave situation,” he concluded.

In a third statement, Kim Yo Jong, a senior official in the government and sister of leader Kim Jong Un, sharply criticized South Korea for failing to stop defector activists from launching anti-North Korea leaflets.

An activist group in South Korea said on Friday it had released balloons into North Korea carrying dollar bills and leaflets denouncing the government in Pyongyang, defying a recently imposed law banning such releases after complaints by the North.

“We regard the maneuvers committed by the human wastes in the south as a serious provocation against our state and will look into corresponding action,” Kim Yo Jong said.

Last year, North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, North Korea, after Kim Yo Jong led a campaign of criticism over the leaflet launches.

Reporting by Josh Smith; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Jonathan Oatis

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