N Korea begins key meeting before year-end deadline for US

North Korea has opened a high-profile political conference to discuss how to overcome “harsh trials and difficulties,” state media reported Sunday, days before a year-end deadline set by Pyongyang for Washington to make concessions in nuclear negotiations. The ruling Workers’ Party meeting is a focus of keen attention as some observers predict North Korea might use the conference to announce it would abandon faltering diplomacy with the U.S. and lift its moratorium on major weapons test. The Korean Central News Agency reported that leader Kim Jong Un presided over a plenary meeting of the party’s Central Committee convened in Pyongyang on Saturday.

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