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N Korea’s Kim presides over military meeting as tension rises

Kim Jong Un held a meeting of North Korea‘s top military officials to discuss boosting the country’s military capability, the country’s state news agency reported on Sunday amid heightened concern the North may be about to return to confrontation with the United States.

Kim presided over an enlarged meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission, KCNA said, to discuss steps “to bolster up the overall armed forces of the country … militarily and politically.”

“Also discussed were important issues for decisive improvement of the overall national defence and core matters for the sustained and accelerated development of military capability for self-defence,” KCNA said.

It did not give details on when the meeting was held nor what was decided.

The commission is North Korea’s top military decision-making body. Kim rules the country as its supreme military commander and is the chairman of the commission.

North Korea Kim
KCNA shared undated photos of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un speaking to the country’s top military officials as the North increases pressure on the US to make concessions in exchange for the resumption of nuclear talks [KCNA via Reuters]

North Korea has set a year-end deadline for the US to change what it says is a policy of hostility amid a stalemate in efforts to make progress on their pledge to end the North’s nuclear programme and establish lasting peace.

Return to the table

Kim and US President Donald Trump have met three times since June 2018, but there has been no substantive progress in dialogue after the North demanded crushing international sanctions be lifted first.

On Saturday, state media said the United States would “pay dearly” for taking issue with the North’s human rights record and that Washington’s “malicious words” would only aggravate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

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North Korea has also repeatedly called for the United States to drop its “hostile policy” and warned about its “Christmas gift” as the end-year deadline it set for Washington to change its position looms.

Some experts say the reclusive state may be preparing for an intercontinental ballistic missile test that could put it back on a path of confrontation with the US.

The US envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, visited South Korea and China last week, making a public and direct call to North Korea to return to the negotiating table.

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