North Korea's Kim Jong Un again rides horse up mountain as nuke deadline nears

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The Korean Central News Agency released photos on Dec 4, 2019, showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un riding a white horse to snow-covered Mount Paektu along with his wife and other officials. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rode a white horse up a sacred mountain on his second symbolic visit there, state media reported on Wednesday (Dec 4), as his country threatens provocation if the United States refuses to make concessions in nuclear diplomacy by year's end.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released many photos showing Mr Kim taking a horse riding to snow-covered Mount Paektu along with his wife and other top lieutenants, also on white horses.

Mr Kim also climbed the mountain, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula, on horseback in mid-October.

Mount Paektu and white horses are symbols associated with the Kim family's dynastic rule. Mr Kim has made previous visits there before making major decisions.

Mr Kim said that "we should always live and work in the offensive spirit of Paektu", according to KCNA.

"The imperialists and class enemies make a more frantic attempt to undermine the ideological, revolutionary and class positions of our party."

The latest trip comes as a year-end deadline set by Mr Kim for Washington to come up with new proposals to salvage nuclear diplomacy approaches.

The North's Foreign Ministry warned on Tuesday that it is entirely up to the US to choose what "Christmas gift" it gets from the North.

North Korean officials have previously said that whether the country lifts its moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear tests depends on what actions the US takes.

Last week, North Korea test-fired projectiles from what it called a "super-large" multiple rocket launcher that South Korea's military said landed in the waters off the North's east coast.

KCNA said on Wednesday that the ruling Workers' Party will hold a central committee meeting in late December to discuss unspecified "crucial issues" in line with "the changed situation at home and abroad".

It's unclear what specific agendas are at stake.

Many experts say it's unlikely for the US for make new proposals that would satisfy North Korea.

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged Mr Kim to follow through on what he described as a promise to denuclearise the North.

"My relationship with Kim Jong Un is really good, but that doesn't mean he won't abide by the agreements... He said he will denuclearise," Mr Trump said during a visit to London.

"Now, we have the most powerful military we ever had, and we are by far the most powerful country in the world and hopefully we don't have to use it. But if we do, we will use it."

Mr Trump also revived a nickname he had previously given Mr Kim when he traded crude insults and threats of destruction during a provocative run in North Korean nuclear and missile tests in 2017.

"(Mr Kim) likes sending rockets up, doesn't he?" Mr Trump said. "That's why I call him Rocket Man."

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