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," days before a year-end deadline set by Pyongyang for Washington to make concessions in nuclear negotiations

SEOUL, South Korea -- 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 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. It called the gathering the “first-day session,” suggesting it would continue for at least another day.

The meeting is intended to “overcome the manifold and harsh trials and difficulties and further accelerate the development of the revolution with transparent anti-imperialist independent stand and firm will,” KCNA said.

The meeting will also discuss “important matters" in the party and national defense, KCNA said.

KCNA said Kim made a speech on overall state affairs and the work of the Central Committee, but gave no further details.

Restarting nuclear and ICBM tests would be a blow to Trump, who has boasted that North Korea's moratorium was a major foreign policy win. But that would also likely completely derail diplomacy with the U.S. and further dim the prospect for North Korea to get badly needed sanctions relief to rebuild its troubled economy, some experts said.

North Korea is pushing to win major sanctions relief in return for limited denuclearization steps, but the U.S. maintains sanctions will stay in place until North Korea takes significant steps toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and technology.