North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s influential sister has rejected the United States’ interpretation of her brother’s latest speech as a signal of Pyongyang’s openness to an early resumption of negotiations, saying Washington is seeking “comfort for itself.”
“It seems that the US may interpret the situation in such a way as to seek a comfort for itself,” Kim Yo-jong said in a statement carried by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Tuesday.
“The expectation, which they chose to harbor the wrong way, would plunge them into a greater disappointment,” she added.
Her remarks came after US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Sunday described as an “interesting signal” the North Korean leader’s Friday speech in which he said his country needed to prepare for “both dialog and confrontation” with the US under President Joe Biden.
North Korea has long been under harsh United Nations sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs. The US has spearheaded those sanctions and has imposed several rounds of its own.
Former US president Donald Trump attempted to court Pyongyang, but although he met with Kim three times, he refused to relieve any of the sanctions on the North in return for several steps taken by Pyongyang toward denuclearization. That hampered further diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington and prompted Kim to announce an end to a moratorium on the country’s missile tests.
Referring to the North Korean leader’s remarks, Sullivan told ABC News that the US “will wait to see whether they are followed up with any kind of more direct communication to us about a potential path forward.”
The remarks by the North Korean leader’s sister, who is also a senior official in the ruling party, comes as the top US diplomat in charge of North Korea negotiations is on a five-day visit to Seoul.
On Monday, Sung Kim, the US official, expressed his willingness to meet with the North Koreans “anywhere, anytime without preconditions” and said that he looks forward to a “positive response soon.”
During talks between Kim and his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk, the two agreed to “look into terminating the working group” that was established in 2018 to coordinate their policy toward Pyongyang and that was seen as an impediment to negotiations, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement.