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Trump downplays veiled North Korea missile threat with joke about vase

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  • President Donald Trump on Tuesday joked that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might send him a “beautiful vase” for Christmas. 
  • Meanwhile, top analysts are warning that North Korea seems poised for its first long-range missile test in over two years. 
  • A long-range missile test could completely derail nuclear talks with the US, which already appear to be on the verge of collapsing.
  • As it seeks more concessions in talks with the Trump administration, North Korea in early December issued a nebulous warning and said it’s “entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday joked that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might send him a “beautiful vase” as a Christmas gift instead of conducting a missile test.

This was in reference to a veiled threat from the rogue state in early December in relation to stalled nuclear talks with the US. As it seeks to leverage more out of the US in the negotiations, top North Korean diplomat Ri Thae Song on December 3 said it’s “entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get.”

Trump appears unfazed by the warning, despite the many roadblocks his administration has faced in talks aimed at securing the denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula and the ongoing anxiety this has created among US allies in the region. 

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said when asked about how he’ll respond if North Korea conducts a missile test while speaking with reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Tuesday. 

“Maybe it’s a nice present. Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test,” Trump said. “I may get a vase. I may get a nice present from him. You don’t know. You never know.”

Top North Korea analysts have suggested North Korea’s “Christmas gift” could be a long-range missile test. Correspondingly, South Korean and US officials are on high alert this holiday season.  

North Korea has not tested a long-range missile (intercontinental ballistic missile or ICBM) in over two years amid diplomatic discussions with the US over its nuclear program. It has conducted a series of short-range missile tests, which Trump has downplayed despite concerns from regional allies like South Korea — where 28,500 US troops are stationed. North Korea in October also said it had conducted a submarine-launched ballistic missile test.

A long-range missile test could completely derail nuclear talks with the US, which already appear to be on the verge of collapsing amid concerns from North Korea that Trump is politically vulnerable post-impeachment.

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