North Korea warns US it’ll choose its ‘Christmas gift’ as nuclear deadline looms
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North Korea warns US it’ll choose its ‘Christmas gift’ as nuclear deadline looms

Diplomat accuses Washington of making proposals aimed at buying time without offering real solutions, as Pyongyang end of year deadline for mutually acceptable terms approaches

US President Donald Trump (right) meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US President Donald Trump (right) meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Tuesday repeated its assertions the Trump administration is running out of time to salvage nuclear negotiations, saying it’s entirely up to the United States to choose what “Christmas gift” it gets from the North.

The statement attributed to a senior diplomat came as North Korea continues to dial up pressure on Washington and Seoul ahead of leader Kim Jong Un’s end-of-year deadline for the US to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal.

Negotiations have faltered since a February summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump broke down after the US rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

Working-level talks held in Sweden in October broke down over what the North Koreans described as the Americans’ “old stance and attitude.”

Ri Thae Song, a vice foreign minister handling US affairs, accused Washington of repeating talk offers aimed at buying time without offering real solutions. Ri reiterated earlier North Korean statements that the country has no intentions to continue the nuclear diplomacy unless it gets something substantial in return.

“The dialogue touted by the US is, in essence, nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK bound to dialogue and use it in favor of the political situation and election in the US.”

Ri’s comments in state media referred to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“What is left to be done now is the US option and it is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get.”

Undated file photo provided on November 29, 2019, by the North Korean government, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, surrounded by a military unit reacting to what it claims as a test firing of its ‘super-large’ multiple rocket launcher in North Korea. North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Kim has said he would seek a “new path” if the United States persists with sanctions and pressure. The North has tested a series of new solid-fuel missile systems in recent months, which experts say potentially expands its ability to strike targets in South Korea and Japan. It has also threatened to lift a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests and resume launches over Japan.

Kim and Trump exchanged crude insults and war threats amid a provocative run in North Korean nuclear and missile tests in 2017, but both leaders have described their personal relationship as good since they began their high-stakes nuclear summitry in 2018.

After the North tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile in July 2017, Kim called the missile a “package of gifts” to the Americans for their Fourth of July holiday.

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