Saturday, May 21

Kim Jong-un’s sister warns US against drills with South Korea if it wants to ‘sleep well’

In North Korea’s first comments to the Biden administration, Kim Jong-un’s sister criticized the United States and South Korea for conducting military exercises and warned the former against further provocations if he wants to “sleep well for the next four years. “.

Kim Yo-jong’s statement on Tuesday was issued as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Asia to speak with US allies Japan and South Korea, on North Korea, as well as on regional issues.

They have meetings in Tokyo on Tuesday before speaking with officials in Seoul on Wednesday.

North Korea would consider abandoning a 2018 bilateral accord 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 the South, said Kim Yo-jong, a senior official who handles inter-Korean affairs for the North.

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.

“We will keep an eye on the attitude and behavior (of South Korea), and if they become more provocative, we could take exceptional measures,” he said in his statement published in Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to give some advice to the new administration of the United States, which is so eager to give off a smell of gunpowder on our land from across the ocean,” he said.

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“If they want to get a good night’s sleep for the next four years, it would be good if they didn’t do things that prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep from the beginning.”

The challenges posed by North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and China’s growing influence loom large in the Biden administration’s first overseas trip, part of a broader effort to bolster U.S. influence and quell concerns about America’s role in Asia after four years of Donald Trump’s “America”. first approach.

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 deteriorated further amid pandemic border closures, while his summit with Trump failed to lift crippling sanctions.

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

The 2018 military agreement, which had been the most tangible outcome of the three summits between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, requires countries to take steps to reduce conventional military threats, such as the establishment of border barriers in land and sea. and no-fly zones.

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.

The allies said they conducted the rollback drills after reviewing factors such as the COVID-19 status and diplomatic efforts to resume nuclear talks with North Korea.

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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 to drills between the United States and South Korea with missile tests.

“War trials cannot coexist with dialogue, hostility cannot coexist with 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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