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Biden Says 'Hello' to N.Korea's Kim Amid Tensions Over Weapons Tests

Biden Says 'Hello' to N.Korea's Kim Amid Tensions Over Weapons Tests

Sunday, 22 May, 2022 - 06:00
US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-youl are greeted by a guard of honor as they gather at a State Dinner at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul, South Korea, May 21, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

US President Joe Biden, in Seoul before heading to Japan as part of his first Asia trip as president, had a simple message for North Korea's Kim Jong Un: "Hello... period," he told reporters on the last day of his visit to South Korea on Sunday.

Biden said he was "not concerned" about new North Korean nuclear tests, which would be the first in nearly five years.

But his wry response when asked what message he had for Kim underscored the administration's low-key approach to the unresolved tensions with North Korea. It is a stark contrast with former President Donald Trump's showy threats, summits, and "love letters" with Kim.

Neither president's approach has led to a major breakthrough, however, and North Korea has resumed testing its largest intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), while intelligence reports suggest it is preparing for a new nuclear test.

“We are prepared for anything North Korea does,” Biden said.

On Sunday, Biden and his new South Korean counterpart, President Yoon Suk-yeol, agreed to consider bigger military exercises and potentially deploying more nuclear-capable American weapons to the region in response to the North's weapons tests.

Early Sunday, Biden met with the chairman of Hyundai to celebrate a decision by the auto giant to invest $5.5 billion in an electric vehicle plant in the southern US state of Georgia.

Biden has used his visit to call for the democratic allies to deepen ties, saying at a joint press conference with Yoon that Asia was a key battleground in the global "competition between democracies and autocracies".

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