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(LEAD) N. Korea holds parliamentary meeting two days later than planned

All News 07:43 April 13, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details, background throughout)
By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has held a key session of its rubber-stamp legislature, dealing with budgetary issues and electing its foreign minister and others as new members of the country's most powerful decision-making body led by leader Kim Jong-un, state media reported Monday.

The meeting of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) took place Sunday, the official Korean Central News Agency reported, confirming that the session, which had originally been scheduled for Friday, was postponed for unspecified reasons.

Leader Kim did not attend the meeting.

Budgetary and personnel issues were dealt with during the session, including appointing Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon as a member of the State Affairs Commission, the KCNA said.

Ri Pyong-chol, who spearheaded the North's arms development; Kim Jong-ho, minister of people's security; and Kim Jong-gwan, minister of the People's Armed Forces, were also elected as new SAC members, it said.

The SPA usually holds a plenary session every April, mostly to deal with the state budget and Cabinet reshuffle. Such meetings have been closely monitored abroad for any glimpse into the reclusive country's policy direction, including its stance on denuclearization talks with the United States.

This year's parliamentary session, however, was held despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and Pyongyang's intensifying efforts to block an outbreak of the infectious disease on its soil.

North Korea is among just a few countries in the world that claim to have no coronavirus infections, but many outside observers suspect that Pyongyang might be hushing up an outbreak.

The SPA meeting was expected to center on public health and economic measures aimed at cushioning the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sunday's meeting also drew keen attention as Pyongyang could send a message to the U.S. amid a stalemate in denuclearization talks since a no-deal summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump more than a year ago.

On Saturday, Kim presided over a politburo meeting of the Workers' Party, discussing the country's anti-coronavirus measures and electing his sister, Kim Yo-jong, as an alternate member of the bureau, according to state media.

The Supreme People's Assembly, North Korea's parliament, holds a meeting in Pyongyang on April 12, 2020, in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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