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(2nd LD) N.K. leader makes first comment on dialogue with U.S. at party meeting

All Headlines 18:39 April 10, 2018

(ATTN: RECASTS headline; ADDS more details in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, April 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has talked about prospects for dialogue with the United States at a key party meeting, state media said Tuesday, in his first official comment on a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The North's ruler made a "profound analysis and appraisal" of inter-Korean ties and potential talks with the U.S. at the meeting of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea's political bureau Monday, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Hours before the report came out, Trump said he plans to meet with Kim next month or in early June to "hopefully" reach a deal on the North's denuclearization.

Kim discussed the recent situation on the Korean Peninsula, including details about his planned summit with President Moon Jae-in on April 27.

"He made a profound analysis and appraisal of the orientation of the development of the north-south relations at present and the prospect of the DPRK-U.S. dialogue," the report said in English, using North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Without elaborating, the KCNA said that Kim set forth the WPK's future policy of international relations and how to respond to them.

North Korea held the WPK's political bureau session for the first time since February 2015. Since Kim Jong-un took office in late 2011, the country has so far had nine political bureau sessions and extended meetings, including the latest one.

Kim and key party officials usually discuss major policies and their future direction at political bureau meetings.

"It is quite rare that North Korea mentioned details about the inter-Korean summit and future dialogue with the U.S.," a ministry official said. "North Korea seemed to attach meaning to the holding of the WPK meeting by reporting it."

The summits come after more than a year of heightened tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. North Korea's denuclearization will top the agenda for the inter-Korean summit and the Kim-Trump meeting.

During Kim's surprise visit to China last month, he told President Xi Jinping that denuclearization hinges on Seoul and Washington's "progressive and synchronous" measures.

The WPK meeting came as the North's rubber-stamp parliament prepares to hold a key session Wednesday mainly to discuss the national budget and a personnel reshuffle.

Attention is being paid to whether the regime will send any message to the South or the U.S. at the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) meeting ahead of its planned summits.

North Korea's state-run TV broadcaster released footage of Kim presiding over the politburo meeting. Experts said that the North is apparently seeking to show to the outside world that it is preparing for the summits in its own way.

"Kim Jong-un has tried to restore a party-centric system after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, who sought a military-first policy," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies.

"The North seems to seek to develop itself as a normal state by improving its ties with the South and the U.S."

This photo, carried by North Korea's state news agency on April 10, 2018, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presiding over a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) a day earlier. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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