SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Thursday leader Kim Jong Un had ordered officials to restore stalled communication lines with South Korea to promote peace in early October, while he shrugged off recent U.S. offers for dialogue by calling them “more cunning ways” to conceal its hostility against the North.
Kim’s comments carried in a state media report are an apparent effort to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington as he wants South Korea to help him win relief from crippling U.S.-led economic sanctions and other concessions. In recent days, Pyongyang offered conditional talks with Seoul while performing its first missile tests in six months and stepping up its criticism of the United States.
The United States, United Kingdom and France called for an emergency closed meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday morning on North Korea’s recent tests, including its first reported hypersonic missile test this week.
Tuesday’s launch was North Korea’s third round of missile tests this month and took place shortly before North Korea’s U.N. envoy accused the United States of hostility and demanded the Biden administration permanently end joint military exercises with South Korea and the deployment of strategic assets in the region.
During a speech at his country’s rubberstamp parliament on Wednesday, Kim said the restoration of cross-border hotlines would realize the Korean people’s wishes for a peace between the two Koreas, according to the official Korean Central News Agency quoted.
He refers to a set of phone and fax communication channels between the rivals, which have been largely dormant for more than a year. The two Koreas briefly resumed communications over the channels for about two weeks this summer, but North Korea later refused to exchange messages again after Seoul staged annual military drills with Washington.
According to KCNA, Kim urged South Korea to abandon “double-dealing attitude” and “hostile viewpoint,” saying inter-Korean relations were at a “crossroads of serious choices” between reconciliation and a “vicious cycle of confrontation.” He accused South Korea of worsening tensions by building up arms and conducting military exercises to counter the North.
Kim’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, has recently issued similar demands, saying North Korea can restart talks and rapprochement steps with South Korea if it abandons its double standards and hostile stance. Some experts say North Korea is pushing South Korea to accept its ballistic missile tests, which are banned by U.N. Security Council resolutions, in a bid to receive an international recognition as a nuclear power.
Kim also turned down repeated U.S. offers to resume talks without preconditions, calling it an attempt to hide America’s hostility. He said Washington’s “hostile policies” and “military threats” remain unchanged and an attempt to conceal them has been increasingly cunning.
Kim said that “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,” according to KCNA.
Kim was quoted as saying that “the U.S. remains utterly unchanged in posing military threats and pursuing hostile policy toward (North Korea) but employs more cunning ways and methods in doing so.”
North Korea has long called U.S.-led economic sanctions on it and regular military drills between Washington and Seoul as proof of U.S. “hostile policies” on them. The North has said it won’t resume nuclear diplomacy with the U.S. unless such U.S. hostility is withdrawn.
U.S. officials have repeatedly expressed hopes to sit down for talks with North Korea, but have also made it clear they will continue sanctions until the North takes concrete steps toward denuclearization. The nuclear talks between the two countries remain stalled 2 ½ years due to disputes over the U.S.-led sanctions.
Prior to North Korea’s claimed hypersonic weapon test, North Korea test-launched a newly developed cruise missile and a ballistic missile from a train, a new launch platform, earlier this month. Both missiles are nuclear-capable and their flight tests demonstrated North Korea’s ability to attack targets in South Korea and Japan, both key U.S. allies where a total of 80,000 American troops are stationed.
Kim Jong Un has still maintained a moratorium on testing a longer-range missile capable of reaching the American homeland, an indication he wants to keep the chances for future diplomacy with the U.S. alive.