(ATF) The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has warned the US against creating a "gunpowder smell" in the region if it wants peace with the Pyongyang regime, state media said on March 16.
The statement came a day before Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, and Lloyd Austin, US Defense Secretary, are due to arrive in Seoul for their first talks with their counterparts in South Korea, a key ally.
"We take this opportunity to warn the new US administration trying hard to give off [the] gunpowder smell in our land," Kim Yo Jong said in a statement carried by the official Korea Central News Agency. "If it wants to sleep in peace for coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step."
The timing of Kim's comments seems designed to ensure that North Korea will be at the top of the agenda for Blinken and Austin when they land in Seoul, Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a Korea expert at King's College London, told Reuters.
The US and South Korea began joint military exercises last week and Pyongyang's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper carried a statement from Kim's sister.
"The South Korean government yet again chose the 'March of War', the 'March of Crisis' rather than a 'warm March' before all the people," she railed, as North Korea always condemns such drills as preparations for invasion.
"It will not be easy for the warm spring days of three years ago to come back if the South Korean government follows whatever instructions of its master," she added, threatening to scrap a North-South military agreement.
Her statement is the first explicit reference by Pyongyang to the new administration in Washington, more than four months after Joe Biden was elected to replace Donald Trump.
Trump's unorthodox approach to foreign policy saw him trade insults and threats of war with Kim Jong Un before two extraordinary high-profile meetings between the two men in Singapore and Hanoi.
With reporting by Agence France-Presse and Reuters