Seoul: North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament will hold a rare session next month, state media said today, as a dramatic diplomatic thaw with South Korea and the US gains pace. The hermit state’s legislative body meets only once or twice a year, mostly for day-long sessions to approve budgets or other decisions deemed necessary by the ruling Workers’ Party.
“The sixth session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will be convened in Pyongyang on April 11,” the official KCNA news agency said. It gave no other details, including the session’s agenda. Such meetings are carefully monitored by observers for any changes to economic policy or a reshuffle of high-ranking officials.
The announcement comes after a rapid rapprochement on the Korean peninsula kicked off with the recent Winter Olympics. Pyongyang has not confirmed or even directly mentioned two proposed summits — North-South talks followed by a face-to-face meet between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un — with its silence raising concerns over its intentions.
But on Tuesday the North acknowledged the “dramatic atmosphere for reconciliation” while denying suggestions it was forced to the negotiating table by sanctions following its missile and nuclear tests. The South has proposed high-level talks next week between the neighbours to discuss details of an inter-Korean summit in late April, including the meeting’s date and agenda.
Seoul is also sending a troupe of K-pop performers to Pyongyang for a four-day visit, officials have said, to stage the first performances by South Korean acts in the North since 2007. The South and the US have announced a plan to resume annual joint military exercises on April 1, with its main drill shortened by a month — in an apparent conciliatory gesture over an event that infuriates the North.