President Donald Trump speaks during a Christmas Eve video teleconference with members of the military. Picture: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Washington - US President Donald Trump on Tuesday brushed off concerns over North Korea's "Christmas gift" to the United States, saying he would handle it when it happens.

"We'll find out what the surprise is and we'll deal with it very successfully. Let's see what happens," Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort as the deadline loomed.

Concerns over North Korea have intensified since Pyongyang imposed a year-end deadline for Washington to offer sanctions relief, promising an ominous "Christmas gift" if their demand is not met.

Asked about the possibility of the gift being a long-range missile test, the president replied that "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 quipped.

Negotiations over North Korean disarmament have stalled after a failed summit between Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February in Vietnam.

The two sides were unable to agree on the next steps toward the easing of tensions, and North Korea has since fired a number of short-range missiles into the sea.

North Korea's leadership has made clear it has no interest in new talks as long as Washington refuses to offer concessions.

Earlier this month, Pyongyang's vice minister of foreign affairs Ri Thae Song said it is "entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select."

dpa