North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said this week that his country needs to prepare for both “dialogue and confrontation” with the US.
This marks the first time Kim has directly commented on President Joe Biden’s administration.
Pyongyang had earlier ignored efforts by the Biden administration to establish diplomatic communications.
The ruling Workers’ Party central committee meeting which started this week also saw Kim admitting the country was facing food shortages.
Kim said his people need “to protect the dignity of our state and its interests for independent development”, according to state media outlet KCNA.
He also said North Korea would “sharply and promptly” react to any developments and “concentrate efforts on taking stable control of the situation on the Korean peninsula”.
Kim’s relationship with the Biden administration has so far been fraught with tension, says the BBC.
Prior to the US election, Biden called Kim a “thug”, and days before Biden’s inauguration, North Korea put on a show of force with a massive military parade that showcased new weaponry.
In April, Biden referred to North Korea as a “serious threat” to global security, prompting an angry response from Pyongyang which said the statement reflected Biden’s intent to “keep enforcing the hostile policy” towards the country.
Washington also recently completed a review of its North Korea policy and said that the US would continue to aim for the eventual complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
US State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said that “our policy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain, nor will it rely on strategic patience”.
The US would instead pursue a “calibrated practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with” North Korea, she said, adding it would focus on making “practical progress”.
Kim previously met Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump on three seemingly cordial occasions but talks on denuclearisation eventually stalled.
Earlier in the week, the AP reported that Kim’s health is once again the subject of speculation as the 37-year-old recently appears much thinner.
Kim’s health is important to Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo as he has not publicly approved a successor who would control his weapons program if he is incapacitated.
In state media images released this week, Kim appears to have lost a lot of weight, noticeably in his face.
Kim’s apparent weight loss is more likely an attempt to improve his health, rather than a sign of illness, according to Hong Min, a senior analyst at Seoul’s Korea Institute for National Unification.
“If he was experiencing health problems, he wouldn’t have come out in public to the big plenary meeting,” Hong said.
Kim, known for heavy drinking and smoking, comes from a family with a history of heart problems.
His father and grandfather, who ruled North Korea before him, both died of heart issues. Experts have said his weight could increase the possibility of cardiovascular diseases.