S.Korea keeping close tabs on upcoming session of Pyongyang’s Parliament

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South Korea is keeping close tabs on an upcoming session of North Korea’s rubber-stamp legislature over possible messages from its leader Kim Jong-un, an official said here om Thursday.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency earlier reported the country will convene the sixth session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) on Sunday to discuss issues including “the work of the Cabinet” and the state budget, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The SPA is the highest organ of power under the North’s constitution, but it rubber-stamps decisions by the ruling party. It usually holds a plenary session in March or April to deal mainly with budget and cabinet reshuffles.

But last year, the North held two SPA sessions in January and September, with leader Kim announcing at the latter that cross-border communication lines with South Korea will be restored as part of efforts to improve chilled inter-Korean relations.

“As Kim has a record of unveiling internal and external policy directions through a speech at the parliamentary meeting in the past, we are monitoring the possibility he will do so this year,” a Unification Ministry official told reporters here.

Yet the official said it’s hard to predict Kim’s attendance at the upcoming meeting as he participated in only eight of 14 SPA sessions held after he took the helm of the country in late 2011.

The parliamentary meeting comes amid heightening tensions on the Korean Peninsula with the North conducting seven missile tests — including two of what it claims to be a hypersonic missile and an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) — in January alone.

The North’s launch of an IRBM on Sunday marked the country’s longest-range missile test since the test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in November 2017, and the most projectiles the North has fired in a single month since Kim took power.

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