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North Korea warns US could 'pay dearly' as tensions rise

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un rides a horse as he visits battle sites in areas of Mt Paektu, Ryanggang, North Korea, in this undated picture released on December 4, 2019. (via Reuters)

North Korea says the United States will have to “pay dearly” for accusing Pyongyang of human rights violations, amid heated rhetoric ahead of a year-end deadline that raised concerns over an end of diplomacy between the two sides.

In an annual resolution cosponsored by the US, the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday denounced what it described as North Korea’s “long-standing and ongoing” violations of human rights.

In a reaction to the resolution, the North’s foreign ministry said in a statement Washington’s “verbal abuse” would only aggravate tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

Pyongyang has already set the end of the year as a deadline for the US to stop hostilities and make concessions to revive the stalled diplomatic talks with the North.

In a visit to South Korea, US special envoy for the North Stephen Biegun dismissed the deadline on Monday, saying Washington was willing to put “all issues of interest” to discussion with Pyongyang.

The North has not directly responded to Biegun’s request, but has recently promised a "Christmas gift" if the US does not come up with concessions by the end of the year.

North Korea has been under multiple rounds of harsh sanctions by the United Nations and the US over its nuclear and missile programs.

In spite of those sanctions, Pyongyang has taken several unilateral steps as signs of goodwill in the course of diplomacy with the US since 2018.

The US, nevertheless, has failed to offer any concessions in return.

That has led to North Korea gradually losing interest in diplomacy with the US, which it says would be meaningless if Pyongyang is the only party taking action.

As the deadline approached, heated rhetoric and a war of words also began to emerge between US President Donald Trump and the North’s leader Kim Jong-un.

The two leaders were engaged in an escalated war of insults in 2017, before a landmark meeting the following year in Singapore.

The two returned to the rhetoric, after Trump referred to Kim as “Rocket Man” on “a suicide mission.”

The North reacted by warning that “the utterances made by President Trump inappropriately at the most sensitive time."

North Korea's First Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said Trump’s insulting comments “must really be diagnosed as the relapse of the dotage of a dotard,”

The North first called Trump a dotard in 2017.

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