Earlier this month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un promised to deliver a “Christmas gift” unless the United States abides by the end-of-the-year deadline set by the North for the U.S. to soften its stance on stalled talks on denuclearization.
“We’ll find out what the surprise is and we’ll deal with it very successfully,” U.S. President Donald Trump said on Christmas Eve while speaking with reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
“Maybe it’s a nice present,” Trump said. “Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase.”
North Korean propaganda outlets reported that Ri Thae-Song, vice minister of foreign affairs, in a statement wrote that a year-end time limit was nearing for the conclusion of talks between North Korea and the U.S.
However, China, Japan and South Korea have agreed to work together to promote dialogue between the United States and North Korea, South Korean President Moon Jae-In said on Tuesday following a summit between the three countries in China, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, newly released U.S. military photos show South Korean and U.S. special forces troops taking part in drills simulating the infiltration of an enemy facility in a move which is likely to ratchet up tensions with Pyongyang.
South Korean and U.S. commandos raided the facility and led out a man with his hands tied behind the back during the exercise described as joint close-quarters battle training last month at a U.S. military base in the southwestern South Korean city of Gunsan.
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, which first reported the training, said the drills were intended to simulate a scenario to capture North Korean executives.
Earlier this month, Trump said the United States reserved the right to use military force against North Korea.
Gen. Charles Brown, commander of U.S. Pacific Air Forces, said last week the U.S. military could “dust off pretty quickly and be ready to use” options it had developed during the height of tensions in 2017.
News of the U.S.-South Korea exercise emerged days after Kim Jong-Un held a meeting of top military officials to discuss boosting the country’s military capability, the country’s state-run propaganda outlet KNCA reported on Sunday amid heightened concern the North may be about to return to confrontation with Washington.
Kim presided over an enlarged meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission to discuss steps “to bolster up the overall armed forces of the country militarily and politically.”
KNCA reported: “Also discussed were important issues for decisive improvement of the overall national defense and core matters for the sustained and accelerated development of military capability for self-defense.”