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Iran Press TV

Assuming father's title, N Korea's Kim elected ruling party's general secretary

Iran Press TV

Monday, 11 January 2021 8:05 AM

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un has been elected as the ruling Workers Party's general secretary during its current assembly -- assuming the title from his late father – in an apparent bid to bolster his authority.

The ruling Workers Party of Korea "unanimously adopted" a decision to elect Kim as general secretary at its congress on Sunday, Pyongyang's state news agency KCNA reported Monday, adding, "All the delegates expressed full support with stormy applause in great excitement."

Analysts see the move as an attempt to enhance Kim's authority amid the country's struggling economy in the face of persisting US-led sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs as well as a self-imposed coronavirus isolation.

The last such gathering five years ago had named Kim as party chairman in what was largely seen as a ceremonial coronation for the leader, who was in his early 30s at the time.

The new title comes after Kim pledged at the ongoing congress to further strengthen North Korea's military capabilities, and censured the US as the "foremost principal enemy" of his nation.

Nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington have been deadlocked since the collapse of the Hanoi summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in February 2019, with North Korea slamming American refusal to reciprocate Pyongyang's demands in return for its denuclearization efforts.

Analysts believe Pyongyang is using the congress to send the incoming US administration of Joe Biden a message of defiance after a rocky relationship between Kim and the Trump administration.

In his New Year's address Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in -- who brokered the talks between Kim and Trump – announced that Seoul would seize on the change of the US administration to "make a last effort to achieve a major turnaround in the stalled US-North Korea and inter-Korean dialogues."

Nighttime military parade held in Pyongyang: S Korea

Meanwhile, South Korea's military asserted on Monday that it had detected signs that a military parade may have been staged Sunday night for the North's ruling party congress but was trying to figure whether it was "an actual event or its rehearsal."

The parade was spotted at Kim Il Sung Square in the capital Pyongyang, but there was a possibility of it being a rehearsal, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff asserted in a statement.

Earlier reports cited satellite images indicating a parade "with military elements" could be staged, though without essentially showing off the North's latest missiles.

Pyongyang's latest nighttime military parade was held in October to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ruling party, when it demonstrated a massive new intercontinental ballistic missile.

It was reported at the time to be the largest road-mobile, liquid-fueled missile anywhere in the world, and that it was highly likely designed to carry multiple warheads in independent re-entry vehicles.

Moon to make 'last-ditch' effort for N Korea breakthrough

South Korean President Moon also declared on Monday that he remained committed to engaging with its northern rival and that cooperation between Seoul and Pyongyang on issues such as anti-epidemic efforts could facilitate a breakthrough in stalled talks in the last years of his term.

"Dialogue and co-prosperity are key drivers of the peace process on the Korean Peninsula," Moon said. "Our will to meet anytime, anywhere, and willingness to talk...remains unchanged."

Moon, whose term ends in 2022, has made engagement with Pyongyang one of his signature goals, adding that he would coordinate closely with the incoming Biden administration.

Talks aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and improve relations with the US and the South have been mired, with Pyongyang criticizing Seoul and Washington for maintaining hostile policies.

"We will strengthen the alliance with the United States in line with the inauguration of the Biden administration, while making last-ditch efforts for a grand breakthrough in stalemated North Korea-US and inter-Korean talks," Moon further stated.

During the Workers Party congress on Saturday, Kim censured South Korea for offering cooperation on "inessential issues" such as the coronavirus, humanitarian aid, and tourism.

Kim, however, noted that inter-Korean ties could be restored if the South changed its attitude and stopped actions such as acquiring new weapons and conducting military drills with the US.

Kim also hailed domestic accomplishments made in recent years, saying the country had achieved a "miraculous victory" by bolstering its power and global prestige since the last meeting of the Workers Party Congress.

Speaking on the first day of the congress, Kim referred to North Korea's advancements in defense and military fields that culminated in the successful testing in 2017 of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the US.

He also admitted that his country's last five-year economic development plan had fallen short in "almost all sectors," calling for greater economic self-reliance.

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