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Photo: API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Friday called the United States his country's "biggest enemy" and pushed to continue expanding North Korea's arsenal, according to text of his remarks at the Workers' Party Congress meeting published by state media.

Why it matters: Kim's comments come days before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

  • "...Biden has promised 'principled diplomacy' with North Korea, implying a break with President Donald Trump's high-stakes summits with Kim Jong-un," NPR writes.
  • Kim said he did not intend to use nuclear weapons unless "hostile forces" planned to attack his country, per Al Jazeera. He did note that North Korea should expand its nuclear arsenal and improve its long-range missile capabilities, and called his country a “responsible nuclear weapons owner.”

The big picture: Kim mentioned the only way the U.S. and North Korea could reach peaceful relations would be if the U.S. withdrew its North Korea hostile policy.

What he's saying: "Our foreign political activities ought to be focused and directed on subduing and defeating the United States, our biggest enemy, and the main obstacle to our revolutionary developments," Kim said.

  • "No matter who is in power in the U.S., the true nature of the U.S. and its fundamental policies towards North Korea never change," he continued.
  • "The reality is that we need to tirelessly strengthen our national defense capabilities in order to deter military threats from the U.S. and achieve peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula."

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - Economy & Business

Scoop: North Equity to acquire Domino Media

Photo by Donato Sardella/WireImage

North Equity, a venture equity firm that acquires and invests in media brands, is acquiring Domino Media Group, the home magazine and digital company launched by Condé Nast in 2005. The deal is expected to close this week. 

Why it matters: It's the latest example of a niche media brand being gobbled up and consolidated by a private equity firm. Private equity firms are typically less interested in editorial, and more interested in ways to better monetize a brand's value.

U.S. ambassador to Russia will return home briefly: State Department

John Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, during a briefing in Moscow in 2015. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

The State Department said Monday that the U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, will now be returning to the United States this week before returning to Moscow "in the coming weeks."

Why this matters: The statement, from a State Department spokesperson, comes just hours after Axios reported that Sullivan had indicated he intended to stand his ground and stay in Russia after the Kremlin “advised” him to return home to talk with his team.

Scoop: Leaked Ukraine memo reveals scope of Russia's aggression

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a military exposition in Sevastopol, Crimea, in Jan. 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia has been holding last-minute military exercises near commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea that threaten to strangle Ukraine's economy, according to an internal document from Ukraine's ministry of defense reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: With the eyes of the world on the massive buildup of troops in eastern Ukraine, the leaked memo shows Russian forces escalating their presence on all sides of the Ukrainian border.

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