INTERNATIONAL NEWS - 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.
The comments from the North's first vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui came with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin in the South for the second leg of an Asian tour to bolster a united front against the nuclear-armed North and an increasingly assertive China.
The pair have repeatedly called for the "complete denuclearisation of North Korea" on their trip, which began in Japan.
There could be no contact nor dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang "until the US withdraws its hostile DPRK policy", Yonhap cited Choe as saying in a statement carried by state media, referring to the North by its official name.
"Therefore, we will continue to ignore such attempts by the US in the future," she added.
"After the change of government in the United States, the only sounds that have echoed are the crazy rumours of the 'threat of DPRK' and the blind screaming of 'complete denuclearisation'."
Pyongyang has closed its borders for more than a year to try to protect itself against the coronavirus pandemic that first emerged in neighbouring China.
It had maintained silence during the first weeks of the Biden administration, with state media not even mentioning the new US leadership until this week.
Blinken's comments in Japan had "seriously provoked us, Choe added.
"Now I wonder what kind of unscrupulous sophistry he will lay out in South Korea to surprise the world."
The US envoys will meet on Thursday with President Moon Jae-in, who brokered the talks process between Kim and then US president Donald Trump in 2018.
Blinken and Austin are consulting on a review of Washington's policy towards the North being carried out by the new administration.
Trump's unorthodox approach to foreign policy saw him trade insults and threats of war with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before an extraordinary diplomatic bromance that saw a series of headline-grabbing meetings, beginning in Singapore.
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 over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.
The North remains under multiple international sanctions for its banned weapons programmes, which it says it needs to deter a possible US invasion.
Shortly before Biden's January inauguration, leader Kim decried the US as his country's "foremost principal enemy" and Pyongyang unveiled a new submarine-launched ballistic missile at a military parade.
Choe said Thursday that for talks to take place, Pyongyang and Washington would have to meet as equals.
"We make it clear there will never be the same opportunities as in Singapore or Hanoi," she said.
Since mid-February, Washington has attempted to reach out to Pyongyang "through several channels", state department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said earlier this week.
"To date, we've not received any response from Pyongyang," she added.
So far, the North has refrained from carrying out any direct provocations since Biden was inaugurated, but is now beginning to amplify its rhetoric.
Seoul and Washington are security allies and kicked off joint military exercises last week. That prompted the North Korean leader's influential sister Kim Yo Jong to warn the new US administration against "causing a stink at its first step" if it wants to "sleep in peace for coming four years".