North Korea warns it's 'up to the U.S. what Christmas gift' it will get ahead of nuclear talks deadline

Brendan Morrow

North Korea is warning the United States it will have to choose "what Christmas gift" it will get ahead of a year-end nuclear talks deadline.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has set a deadline for the end of the year for a breakthrough in nuclear talks, and after the U.S. postponed joint military exercises with South Korea as an "act of goodwill," North Korean Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan in November dismissed what he called U.S. attempts to "earn time, pretending it has made progress," adding "we are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us" and "we will no longer gift the U.S. president with something he can boast of."

The country is now escalating that rhetoric as the deadline looms, with North Korea's Ri Thae Song calling U.S. messaging "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 U.S.," The Associated Press reports. Ri also warned, "What is left to be done now is the U.S. option and it is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get."

The Washington Post notes North Korea "has a history of timing launches with an eye on international developments and even U.S. holidays."

Talks between President Trump and Kim previously broke down at a summit in February, with Trump saying that "they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that." Working-level talks also broke down in October, AP notes, with North Korea blaming the U.S.' "old stance and attitude."

Meanwhile, Trump in London on Tuesday expressed confidence that Kim will denuclearize, the Post reports, while adding he "likes sending rockets up, doesn't he?"

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