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N. Korea stages huge military parade on party anniversary

North Korea staged what's believed to be the largest-ever military parade on Saturday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party, state media showed, in a move to show off its military might.

The North has hyped up the festive mood and promoted the accomplishments of its leader Kim Jong-un ahead of the anniversary.

But it forewent provocative acts such as a long-range rocket launch, which the North has threatened to do so in recent weeks.
Empty military vehicles line up on a road before a building displaying portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-Sung (top left) and Kim Jong-Il (top right) in Pyongyang, Saturday. North Korea is gearing up for a lavish celebration marking the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers` Party. (AFP-Yonhap)
Empty military vehicles line up on a road before a building displaying portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-Sung (top left) and Kim Jong-Il (top right) in Pyongyang, Saturday. North Korea is gearing up for a lavish celebration marking the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers` Party. (AFP-Yonhap)

Flanked by senior military officials, the North's young leader stood at a podium to review the proceedings held at Kim Il-sung Square at the center of Pyongyang, according to footage broadcast live by the state-run Korean Central Television.

Next to Kim, Liu Yunshan, who ranks fifth in China's ruling Communist Party hierarchy, watched the parade, during which thousands of goose-stepping soldiers marched across the square in formation.

The parade, the first since July 2013, was delayed until the afternoon due mainly to heavy rain on Friday night.

North Korea has spared no effort to prepare for what it called a "grand style" parade to demonstrate its military prowess at a time when the country has advanced its capacity to develop missiles and nuclear weapons.  

South Korea's unification ministry said Tuesday that the North may showcase submarine-launched ballistic missiles, which it has claimed successfully fired in May, or a road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile during the parade.

Military experts said what is of special interest is whether North Korea would display its Taepodong-2 long-range missile or its new road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, known as the KN-08, during the parade.

North Korea did not launch what it calls "a series of satellites" before the anniversary, but analysts said there is still a chance that the North could go ahead with the launch within this year.

Defense Minister Han Min-koo said Thursday that North Korea could launch short-range missiles for its anniversary. Military sources said that the North may fire off such missiles near the eastern port city of Wonsan.

The North has claimed that it has the right to launch satellites for peaceful space development, but outside experts view the North's move as a cover for ballistic missile tests.

The North's key anniversary also draws attention as it could serve as a test of diplomacy for the North's young leader.

Kim held talks with Liu, a Chinese top official, on late Friday, amid strained relations between Pyongyang and Beijing.

Liu, who arrived in Pyongyang on Friday for a four-day visit to attend the parade, called for an early resumption of the long-stalled six-party talks aimed at the denuclearization of North Korea, according to China's Xinhua news agency.

Relations between China and its long-time ally, North Korea, have remained frayed since the North's third nuclear test in February 2013. (Yonhap)



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