N. Korea holds key conference before year-end deadline in negotiations with US, Latest World News - The New Paper

N. Korea holds key conference before year-end deadline in negotiations with US

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SEOUL: North Korea has opened a high-profile political conference to discuss how to overcome "harsh trials and difficulties," state media reported yesterday, days before a year-end deadline set by Pyongyang for Washington to make concessions in nuclear negotiations.

The ruling Workers' Party meeting is a focus of keen attention as some observers predict North Korea might use the conference to announce it would abandon faltering diplomacy with the US and lift its moratorium on major weapons tests.

The Korean Central News Agency reported that leader Kim Jong Un presided over a plenary meeting of the party's central committee convened in Pyongyang on Saturday. It called the gathering the "first-day session," suggesting it would continue for at least another day.

The meeting is intended to "overcome the manifold and harsh trials and difficulties, and further accelerate the development of the revolution with transparent anti-imperialist independent stand and firm will", KCNA said.

The meeting will also discuss "important matters" in the party and national defence, KCNA said.

KCNA said Mr Kim made a speech on overall state affairs and the work of the central committee but gave no further details.

In April last year, at the start of nuclear talks with the US, North Korea held the same Workers' Party meeting and announced it would suspend nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests and shift its national focus to developing the economy.

After his second summit with President Donald Trump in February in Vietnam failed, Mr Kim gave the US until the end of this year to offer new initiatives to salvage the nuclear negotiations. North Korea has recently warned that its resumption of tests of long-range missiles and nuclear devices depends on US action.

Restarting nuclear and ICBM tests would be a blow to Mr Trump, who has boasted that North Korea's moratorium was a major foreign policy win. But that would also likely completely derail diplomacy with the US and further dim the prospect for North Korea to get badly needed sanctions relief to rebuild its troubled economy, some experts said. - AP