An official from North Korea calls for improved living conditions


 According to North Korea's official news agency, Kim Jong Un urged officials to overcome a "grim situation" facing his country and improve food and living conditions for his people.

However, state media did not mention any specific comments about Washington and Seoul while reporting on Kim's speech marking the 76th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party.

The US and North Korea have been locked in stalled nuclear negotiations for over two years over differences over exchanging crippling US-led sanctions against North Korea and the North's denuclearization steps.

Recent missile and peace offers from the United States have overshadowed a ramp-up in the country's missile testing, reviving an old trend of exerting pressure on Seoul to get the things it wants from Washington.

Korean Central News Agency reported on Sunday that Kim Tae-woo, at Pyongyang's party congress in January, outlined a new five-year development plan aimed at achieving the economic goals that had been set.

'Kim confirmed that the five-year plan would ensure the nation's economy is boosted and food, clothing, and housing problems are resolved efficiently,' the agency reported.

Kim, according to the KCNA, analyzed the North's "unprecedented difficulties" and urged the party to unite and develop its economy in the face of the "grim situation."

Kim faces his most difficult time since coming to power, analysts say. He failed to win desperately needed sanctions relief in his summitry with then-President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019, then the Coronavirus pandemic caused North Korea to close its borders and unleash further economic shock after decades of mismanagement and sanctions over Kim's nuclear weapons program.

Last week, the WHO reported that medical supplies for COVID-19 had arrived at a North Korean port, an indication that the North is easing one of the world's strictest pandemic border closures to receive outside aid.

As of yet, Kim has rejected Biden's offers to restart dialogue without preconditions, saying the United States must abandon its "hostile policy," a term the North mainly uses to refer to sanctions and US-South Korea military exercises.

North Korea has also restored communication lines with the South in recent weeks and said that if Seoul abandons its "double-dealing attitude" and "hostile viewpoint" it could take further steps to improve bilateral relations.

Experts say North Korea is taking advantage of South Korea's desire for inter-Korean relations to wedge Washington and Seoul, which would allow the North to extract concessions from the Biden administration.

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