North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened a meeting of top governing party officials, ahead of a year-end deadline set by Pyongyang for Washington to shift its stance on stalled nuclear talks, state media reported on Sunday.
The plenary session, which opened on Saturday, follows widespread speculation that North Korea is preparing to test an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Kim, who is chairman of the governing Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), presided over the first day of the party meeting to “discuss important matters arising … in the building of the state and national defence”, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
“The immediate orientation of the struggle of the WPK and the state and important policy issues for new victory in our revolution under the present situation were brought up as agendas of the plenary meeting,” it added.
KCNA did not provide further details of the meeting but said it would continue.
Stalled nuclear talks
The party plenary comes a week after Pyongyang held a high-level meeting of the armed forces to discuss boosting the country’s military capability.
Talks on denuclearising the Korean Peninsula have been largely deadlocked since the second summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump collapsed in Hanoi at the start of this year.
Pyongyang has repeatedly asked Washington to meet its year-end deadline and to offer a new initiative to iron out their differences over the North’s nuclear weapons programme.
It warned Washington earlier this month that failure to meet Pyongyang’s expectations could result in an unwanted “Christmas gift”.
Pyongyang carried out a series of static tests at its Sohae rocket facility this month after a number of weapons launches in recent weeks – some of them described as ballistic missiles by Japan and others.
North Korea is banned from carrying out such tests under UN sanctions.
In response to the North’s warning, Trump said last week the United States was ready to deal with any “surprises” from North Korea.
“Everybody’s got surprises for me, but let’s see what happens. I handle them as they come along.”