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(2nd LD) N.K. leader holds politburo meeting, makes no mention of inter-Korean issues

North Korea 09:36 June 08, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in 6th, last 3 paras)
By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has presided over a politburo meeting of the Workers' Party and discussed measures to develop the chemical industry, but inter-Korean issues and other external matters were not on the agenda, according to state media Monday.

The meeting, held Sunday, came just two days after the North vowed to abolish an inter-Korean liaison office in anger over anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets sent from South Korea. Four items were on the agenda, but the leaflet issue was not one of them, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

"The meeting discussed in depth some crucial issues arising in further developing the self-sufficient economy of the country and improving the standard of people's living," the KCNA said.

"Discussed as the first agenda items were some urgent problems arising in developing the chemical industry of the country in a well-defined framework," it added.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un smiles during a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency on June 8, 2020. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

Kim was quoted as repeatedly stressing the importance of the chemical industry, calling it "the foundation of industry and a major thrust front of the national economy."

He, in particular, called for development of "the C1 chemical industry," a coal-gasification project that North Korea has sought for years to diversify its energy sources. In his 2019 New Year's Day speech, Kim called for stepped-up efforts to establish the C1 chemical industry.

The KCNA said that Kim also emphasized the need to improve the living conditions of people in Pyongyang, calling for "strong state measures" on the matter and ordering the construction of more houses.

The KCNA, however, made no mention of inter-Korean issues, especially the anti-Pyongyang leaflets.

On Friday, the North's United Front Department (UFD) handling inter-Korean affairs issued a statement, saying it will abolish the liaison office in the first in a series of measures that the sister of leader Kim Jong-un threatened to take unless Seoul stops the sending of such leaflets.

Along with the closing of the liaison office, she warned of dismantling a now-shuttered industrial park in the North's border city of Kaesong and scrapping a military tension reduction agreement calling for a halt to all hostilities along the border.

North Korea vowed to put those threats into action, even though South Korea promised to take legislative measures to ban such activity. The North later derided Seoul's envisioned move as "a little more advanced excuses."

The two Koreas signed summit agreements and the military deal in 2018 mostly aimed at reducing cross-border tensions, but many of the agreements between their leaders have not been carried out amid a deadlock in denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

The liaison office in Kaesong, in particular, was launched in September 2018 as part of efforts to facilitate cross-border contact and cooperation as agreed by the leaders of the two Koreas in their summits held in the same year.

Earlier this year, the two Koreas temporarily closed the office over coronavirus concerns, but their liaison officers have communicated through telephone and fax lines established between Seoul and Pyongyang.

Sunday's politburo meeting marked the third of its kind this year. The previous two such meetings, held in February and April, mostly addressed issues related to the country's nationwide efforts to fend off the coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting was attended by Kim Yo-jong, first vice department director of the ruling party's Central Committee; Choe Ryong-hae, the country's No. 2 leader; Kim Jong-gwan, minister of People's Armed Forces; and other key officials, according to photos released by state media.

North Korea has intensified its pitch for "self-reliance" in all areas since leader Kim said in December that he expected no easing in global sanctions amid a deadlock in talks with the United States and called for a "frontal breakthrough" to tackle challenges confronting his country.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency on June 8, 2020. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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