North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for the restoration of communications lines with South Korea during an address to the Supreme People's Assembly, state-run media reported on Thursday. Photo by EPA-EFE/KCNA
SEOUL, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that Pyongyang would restore severed communications lines with Seoul in early October in a sign of thawing inter-Korean relations, while at the same time slamming U.S. efforts at diplomacy as a "petty trick," state-run media reported Thursday.
In a speech delivered Wednesday to the Supreme People's Assembly, North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament, Kim said he wanted communications channels restarted to see the "recovery of the [N]orth-[S]outh relations from the present deadlock and durable peace settling in the Korean Peninsula," according to Korean Central News Agency.
Kim said that progress "depends on the attitude of the [S]outh Korean authorities" and noted that the North has "neither aim nor reason to provoke [S]outh Korea and no idea to harm it."
While North Korea appears to be opening the door to improved relations on the peninsula, it continues to rebuff diplomatic efforts from the United States, a move that analysts see as an effort to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington in order to extract concessions.
In his address, Kim said that the United States "remains utterly unchanged in posing military threats and pursuing hostile policy toward [North Korea]" and called efforts at engagement "no more than a petty trick for deceiving the international community and hiding its hostile acts."
Washington responded by countering Kim's claims and calling for North Korea to return to the negotiating table.
"The United States harbors no hostile intent toward the DPRK," a State Dept. spokesperson said in an email to UPI. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.
"Our policy calls for a calibrated, practical approach that seeks serious and sustained diplomacy with the DPRK to make tangible progress that increases the security of the United States, our allies and our deployed forces," the spokesperson said. "We are prepared to meet with the DPRK without preconditions. We hope the DPRK will respond positively to our outreach."
Washington's negotiations with Pyongyang have been at a standstill since a summit between Kim Jong Un and then-President Donald Trump ended without an agreement in February 2019.
Inter-Korean relations have also been at a low ebb since North Korea destroyed a joint liaison office in the border town of Kaesong last year and cut off all communications with the South.
Pyongyang briefly restarted cross-border hotlines in July but stopped answering them last month in protest over joint U.S.-South Korea military drills, which the North frequently says are rehearsals for an invasion.
In his address, Kim again criticized the joint exercises as well as the South's continuing military buildup and said Seoul would have to end its "double-dealing attitude and hostile viewpoint and policies" before relations can improve and an end-of-war declaration can be signed.
The two Koreas remain technically at war, as the 1950-53 conflict ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for an official end to the war at a keynote address to the United Nations General Assembly last week, saying it would bring "irreversible progress in denuclearization and usher in an era of complete peace."
Last week, Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of Kim Jong Un, called the proposal "an interesting and an admirable idea."
The North Korean leader's address came on the heels of three recent weapons tests, including what Pyongyang claimed was the successful launch Tuesday of a new hypersonic missile, which could prove difficult for defense systems to track and intercept.
Kim said the country's continued military development was a means of "containing the military moves of the hostile forces" on the Korean Peninsula and touted its "ultra-modern weapons, which are being developed at an extremely fast speed."