Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

North Korea to hold military parade to mark 70th anniversary

Workers at a cosmetics factory in North Korea Image Workers at a cosmetics factory in North Korea
| 10 September, 2018, 12:56

Dozens of military vehicles and goose-stepping soldiers paraded through the streets of the North Korean capital Sunday to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's founding, against a background of stalled diplomatic talks with the United States over the issue of denuclearization.

"Their absence now is likely either a part of North Korea's attempt to obscure the details of what will be featured or pre-parade maintenance or preparation underway, or a combination of both", the experts said.

"This is a big and very positive statement from North Korea", he claimed.

Li Zhanshu, sent by President Xi Jinping to attend North Korea's 70th anniversary parade on Sunday, said China was committed to the goal of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, the Xinhua news agency said.

At the end of the two-hour event he strolled to the edge of the balcony with the Chinese special envoy, Li Zhanshu, who is also the third-ranking member in China's ruling Communist Party. "Energy of the parade was much more upbeat and lighthearted versus previous years - not so much the military portion but definitely in civilian portion".

Mr Li also said his visit aims to implement the important consensus between Mr Xi and Mr Kim, enhance high-level strategic communication, carry out friendly exchanges in various fields and have in-depth exchanges of views on further development of the traditional friendship so as to create a better future for the China-North Korea ties, Xinhua reported.

Despite no agreement yet between Pyongyang and Washington on the denuclearization process the two agreed to at their landmark Singapore summit in June, and with Pyongyang demanding the U.S. agree to a peace treaty to end the 1950-53 Korean War, there have, over the last week, been some encouraging signals.

Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's titular head of state, gave a speech at the parade in which he said the country had achieved status as a military power, and would now pursue efforts to strengthen its economy.

But thousands of jovial North Koreans clapped in unison and rallied support for their leader Kim.


The North displayed its latest missiles in the February parade, however, and Washington hardly batted an eye.

But while South Korea's President Moon Jae-in is due in Pyongyang for a summit with his North Korean counterpart from September 18 to 20, talks with the United States have hit a roadblock over who should make the next move.

In April 2017, as tensions with Trump were escalating, Kim paraded a series of missile canisters through Kim Il Sung Square that foreshadowed his later test of a rocket capable of reaching Washington.

This year's parade wasn't televised but the state media apparatus filmed it - even using drones with cameras.

The strong emphasis on the economy underscores the strategy Kim has pursued since January of putting economic development front and center.

Kim has reiterated his commitment to dismantle his atomic weapons program, with officials of his government adding that that should occur during Trump's first term in office, which is scheduled to end in January 2021.

North Korean gymnasts perform in the Arirang Mass games celebrating the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sept. 9, 2018.

The event also underlined the importance that Pyongyang is attaching to economic development. He claims to have perfected his nuclear arsenal enough to deter US aggression and devote his resources to raising his nation's standard of living.

The mass games performances are expected to continue for the next month or so, with tickets for foreigners starting at just over $100 and going up to more than $800 per seat.

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