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STORY BY JENNIFER HANSLER, NICOLE GAOUETTE, KYLIE ATWOOD AND YOONJUNG SEO, CNN

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Published on March 16, 2021 11:00 PM

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North Korea breaks silence to warn US against 'causing a stink'
Washington (CNN)Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea's leader, warned the Biden administration against "causing a stink at its first step" on Monday, hours after the White House said it had not received a response to its outreach to Pyongyang.

"We take this opportunity to warn the new US administration trying hard to give off powder smell in our land," she said in a statement, according to the country's state news agency. "If it wants to sleep in peace for (the) coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step," she said. The warning comes as the US and South Korea conduct scaled-down, simulated military exercises and US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have touched down in the region for meetings with their Japanese and South Korean counterparts. Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the administration had reached out to North Korea, noting they have "a number of channels, as we always have had, that we can reach out through."

"Diplomacy is always our goal. Our goal is to reduce the risk of escalation. But, to date, we have not received any response," Psaki said, noting that the outreach "follows over a year without active dialogue with North Korea, despite multiple attempts by the US to engage." However, experts told CNN prior to Kim Yo Jong's message that Pyongyang was likely to rebuff diplomatic efforts for the time-being for a number of reasons including the coronavirus pandemic, the Biden team's ongoing North Korea policy review, the meetings in the region and the administration's rhetoric.