December 28, 2019 / 10:48 PM / in 2 months

North Korea's Kim holds ruling party's plenary meeting before year-end deadline

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the 5th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in this undated photo released on December 28, 2019 by North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened a meeting of top ruling party officials on Saturday to discuss important policy matters ahead of the year-end deadline set by Kim for the United States, the state news agency said on Sunday.

Kim, chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), guided the first-day session of the plenary meeting to discuss “important matters arising in the party building and activities and in the building of the state and national defence,” KCNA news agency said in a statement.

“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,” KCNA said.

KCNA did not provide further details of the meeting, but it said the meeting will be continued.

The North’s party plenary meeting comes a week after Pyongyang held the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Meeting to discuss boosting the country’s military capability.

Earlier this month, North Korea said it would hold a plenary session of its ruling party sometime this month to discuss and decide on crucial issues due to the changed situation at home and abroad, without elaborating.

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.”

In the midst of heightened tensions between North Korea and the United States, North Korea conducted two “crucial” tests at a satellite launch site this month to bolster its strategic nuclear deterrence.

In response to the North’s warning, U.S. President Donald Trump said last week the United States was ready to deal with any North Korea “Christmas gift” amid U.S. concerns Pyongyang might be preparing a long-range missile test.

Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Chris Reese

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