N.Korea starts annual parliamentary session

Pyongyang: North Korea on Tuesday started its annual parliamentary session amid growing tensions provoked by the deployment of a US nuclear aircraft carrier and the possibility of new weapons tests by Pyongyang.

The fifth session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly coincided with the fifth anniversary of leader Kim Jong-un’s rise to power, according to North Korean state media reported.

The session has gathered 687 members of the Assembly, who, despite being considered the most powerful official body in the country, only ratify the decisions of the higher-level authorities such as the ruling Workers’ Party.

The appointment of a new State Security Minister, who is in charge of administering the North Korean secret police, will probably be included in the session’s agenda as the former minister Kim Won-hong was ousted in February, Efe news reported.

Some of the attendees include important figures such as the head of state, Kim Yong-nam, and Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-yong, who has not been seen for nine months, came to pay tribute to the two former leaders of the Pyongyang regime, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, ahead of the session.

It is highly expected that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will send a message to the United States during the Tuesday session.

A spokesperson for the South Korean Unification Ministry, however, pointed out that the Assembly’s annual sessions are mainly focused on discussing “domestic policies”.

The North Korean congress is being held at a time of tension marked by the US decision to dispatch the USS Carl Vinson to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to the latest missile provocations on April 5.

Washington has also analysed the possibility of a pre-emptive attack on Pyongyang amid suspicions that the North Korean army could be preparing a new missile or nuclear test this month.

In addition, the country will also celebrate the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung, this Saturday and the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army on April 25.