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Biden says he'd meet North Korea's Kim Jong Un only if nuclear arsenal reduced

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NASHVILLE (BLOOMBERG) – US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he could meet Mr Kim Jong Un if the North Korean leader made moves to reduce his nuclear arsenal.

The comment, made at the presidential debate Thursday (Oct 22), indicates that under Mr Biden there would be a shift in policy toward North Korea back toward one traditionally employed by previous American leaders.

US President Donald Trump’s unprecedented meetings with Mr Kim since 2018 have yet to lead to any significant steps to reduce North Korea’s atomic arsenal.

Responding to a question on whether he’d meet Mr Kim, Mr Biden said he would “on the condition that he would agree that he would be drawing down his nuclear capacity. The Korean Peninsula should be a nuclear-free zone.”

The former vice-president also lambasted Mr Trump for meeting with Mr Kim.

Calling North Korea’s leader a “thug,” Mr Biden said “they have much more capable missiles – able to reach US territory – than they ever did before.”

At the debate, Mr Trump reiterated a claim that his diplomacy, which has included three face-to-face meetings with Mr Kim, has prevented a nuclear conflict.

“We’re not in a war,” Mr Trump said. “We have a good relationship. You know, people don’t understand, having a good relationship with leaders of other countries is a good thing.”

Earlier this month, Mr Kim rolled out a new ballistic missile that weapons experts said was designed to carry nuclear warheads to the US, in a massive military parade that appeared calibrated to show strength at home and abroad without provoking Mr Trump.

Still, the parade showed how far Mr Kim’s weapons programme has advanced over the past two years, despite Mr Trump’s claim that North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat.”

The spectacle underscored how the country will remain one of the US’s biggest strategic challenges regardless of whether Mr Trump or Mr Biden win on Nov 3.

North Korea has extolled Mr Trump’s “mysteriously wonderful” chemistry with Mr Kim, while denouncing Mr Biden as a “rabid dog” whose candidacy is “enough to make a cat laugh.”