North Korean parliament re-elects Kim Jong Un to key panel


As SPA president, Choe is technically head of state, although real power in North Korea is wielded by Kim and his immediate family.

Before his meeting with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington, US President Donald Trump says he is considering a potential third nuclear summit with North Korea's leader.

Speaking at a plenary session of the central committee of the ruling Workers' party of Korea on Wednesday, Kim did not mention the USA by name or refer to North Korean nuclear weapons, but analysts saw his reference to "hostile forces" as a clear attempt to increase pressure on Washington. Moon also expressed his willingness for another inter-Korean summit at an early date to push through the stalled nuclear talks.

The 687 lawmakers in the nominal parliament are elected for a period of five years, while turnout at the polls in March was over 90 per cent.

The State Affairs Commission is described in the North Korean constitution as "the supreme national guidance organ of state sovereignty" making it the country's top decision-making body.

The Hanoi summit in February fell apart as Kim and Trump failed to find common ground over how to match Pyongyang's denuclearization steps with Washington's sanctions relief.

Kim's comments were made to the Fourth Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the Worker's Party in Pyongyang on Wednesday but were reported by North Korea's state news agency (KCNA) on Thursday.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula, which has been divided into two countries with differing political systems in place since 1953, improved previous year with Kim and Moon having held several meetings.

Frank Aum, a former senior Pentagon adviser on North Korea now with the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, said Trump appeared "open to any reasonable North Korea proposal and wouldn't turn down a good deal just because it was a small one".

With Kim Jong Un personally taking an unprecedented role in worldwide engagement, Choe's role may evolve.

In the 1980s, he led the North's youth delegations on goodwill visits to a number of countries, including Russia, Libya and China, before being promoted to the party's powerful Central Military Commission in 2017. "We want sanctions to remain in place, and frankly I had the option of significantly increasing them".

Pak Pong Ju had served two separate terms as premier, from 2003 to 2007 and from 2013 to 2019, according to North Korea Watch. Trump agreed that dialogue with the North is important but did not commit himself to any particular course of action.

"At the right time, I would have great support with North Korea". But the younger Kim has more openly embraced many of those market changes, and North Korea has sought to ease sanctions and attract more private investment.

When the right time comes, "a lot of countries will be helping", he said.