Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

North Korea holds key parliamentary meeting without Kim Jong

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Deanna Wagner | 13 April, 2018, 03:09

Leader Kim Jong-un has attended six out of the eight Supreme People's Assembly sessions that were held since he came to power but was absent this time. "I think we'll go in with a lot of respect and we'll see what happens, but China has really helped us at the border and we appreciate it". "They've been really terrific at helping us get to some kind of settlement".

US President Donald Trump says he plans to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next month or in early June and hopes the discussions will ultimately lead to an end of the North's nuclear weapons program.

North Korea has intensified diplomatic efforts recently, at a time when inter-Korean relations have been improving since the North made a decision to take part in the February 9-25 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics hosted by the South.

The Trump-Kim meeting, if realized, will follow an inter-Korean summit on April 27. Under questioning, he would not take any option off the table, including military ones.

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It is unclear whether the changes were made because of a possible agreement between Seoul and Pyongyang to lower the temperature on North Korea's militant rhetoric.

Kim's visit to Beijing was his first known trip outside North Korea since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation for upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.

They also reaffirmed close cooperation among them and the U.S. to maintain maximum pressure on the North to achieve complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

At a separate congressional hearing, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the aim was for a negotiated solution to the North Korean crisis.