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Biden says his message to North Korean leader Kim is 'Hello...period'

U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he departs for Japan at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Sunday, May 22, 2022. (Kim Hong-Ji/Pool Photo via AP)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- U.S. President Joe Biden said Sunday he does not have much to convey to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un other than "Hello...period," as the secretive country seems to be readying a missile or nuclear test during Biden's ongoing Asia tour.

    Speaking in South Korea before heading to Japan, Biden asserted that the United States is prepared for "anything North Korea does" and is "not concerned" about a potential nuclear test, which, if conducted, will be the first since 2017 by Pyongyang.

    Biden on Thursday kicked off his first trip to Asia since taking office, with U.S. intelligence suggesting what officials call a "genuine possibility" of North Korea staging another missile test, including a potential long-range missile test, or a nuclear test, or both, around the time of the president's travel.

    Asked by a reporter if he had a message for Kim, Biden said, "Hello." After a couple of seconds, the president followed up with "period."

    Biden's wry response seemed to reflect the current U.S.-North Korean relations, as Pyongyang continues a series of ballistic missile tests without responding to the administration's preparedness for talks to make progress toward the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

    On Saturday, Biden and new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol agreed to further strengthen deterrence against security threats posed by North Korea during their first summit talks in Seoul, condemning Pyongyang for recent escalatory ballistic missile tests.

    The two presidents also agreed to initiate discussions to expand the scope and scale of combined military exercises and training on and around the peninsula, according to their statement.

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