Biden says North Korea top foreign policy issue, casts doubt on U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Joe Biden spoke during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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UPDATED 1:47 PM PT – Thursday, March 25, 2021

Joe Biden delivered vague answers to a preapproved list of reporters during his first press briefing since taking office.

From the East Room of the White House on Thursday, Biden blamed Trump and Republicans for several key issues facing his administration, including the border crisis.

On foreign relations, Biden cast doubt on meeting the May 1 deadline set by President Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

However, he did not give an accurate timeline on a withdrawal and said it likely would not happen in the next year.

Regarding North Korea, Biden said he considers it a top foreign policy issue for his administration.

“We are consulting with our allies and partners and there will be responses if they choose to escalate,” Biden stated. “We will respond accordingly. But I am also prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization.”

North Korea has ramped up rhetoric against the U.S. in the past few weeks, and launched two ballistic missiles on Thursday.

Biden has taken criticism recently for weak responses to challenges from China, Pyongyang and Russia. He now faces criticism for today’s performance, after fumbling through sentences, appearing confused during parts of the briefing and losing his train of thought several times.

Notably absent were any questions about the coronavirus pandemic, economy, gun control, his son Hunter or sexual assault allegations against his Democrat colleague Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.).

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