N. Korea says will ignore US while ‘hostile policy’ in place: Yonhap

North Korea said Thursday it will ignore attempts by the US to contact it, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported, hours before President Joe Biden’s top envoys were to hold talks in Seoul.

“No US-DPRK contact nor dialogue can take place until the US withdraws its hostile DPRK policy,” Yonhap cited senior North Korean minister Choe Son Hui as saying in a statement carried by state media.

“Therefore, we will continue to ignore such attempts by the US in the future,” she added.

The comments from Choe, who is the North’s first vice foreign minister, come with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin in Seoul for the second leg of an Asian trip to bolster a united front against the nuclear-armed North and an increasingly assertive China.

Seoul and Washington are security allies and kicked off joint military exercises last week, leading to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s influential sister warning the new US administration against “causing a stink at its first step” if it wants to “sleep in peace for coming four years”.

The statement by Kim Yo Jong, a key adviser to her brother, was the reclusive state’s first explicit reference to the new leadership in Washington, more than four months after Biden was elected to replace Donald Trump — although she still did not mention the 78-year-old Democrat by name.

The US envoys will meet on Thursday with President Moon Jae-in, who brokered the talks process between Kim and Trump in 2018.

Trump’s unorthodox approach to foreign policy saw him trade insults and threats of war with Kim Jong Un before an extraordinary diplomatic bromance that saw a series of headline-grabbing meetings.

But ultimately no progress was made towards Washington’s declared aim of denuclearising North Korea, with a second summit in Hanoi in early 2019 breaking up without an agreement and Pyongyang still under multiple international sanctions for its banned weapons programmes.

And it has isolated itself more than ever by closing its borders for more than a year to protect itself against the coronavirus pandemic that first emerged in neighbouring China.

Blinken and Austin are consulting on a review of Washington’s policy towards the North being carried out by the new administration.

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