North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, North Korea. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he is continuing to build nuclear warheas. Picture: AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, North Korea. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he is continuing to build nuclear warheas. Picture: AP

Kim still won’t stand down on nukes

KIM Jong-un says he does not plan unilateral steps to denuclearise and is instead awaiting a US response to steps he has already taken, according to a senior Russian official who met the North Korean leader.

Valentina Matvienko, a Kremlin loyalist and speaker of the upper house of Russia's parliament, met the North Korean leader in Pyongyang on Saturday, Russia's RIA news agency reported.

 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, right, and Valentina Matvienko, chairwoman of the Russian Federation Council, met in Pyongyang on Monday. Picture: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, right, and Valentina Matvienko, chairwoman of the Russian Federation Council, met in Pyongyang on Monday. Picture: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

Matvienko said Kim had been polite and diplomatic in his remarks about US president Donald Trump, RIA reported.

She added North Korea needed motivation in order to progress to denuclearisation.

"We share this point of view, we believe that motivation should be created, and the aspiration of the (North) Korean leader, people and country to move toward denuclearisation should be encouraged in every way," Matvienko said.

North Korea's position is clear as they have made two serious steps, showing that their intentions to eliminate nuclear weapons and stop the nuclear programs are serious, she said.

"But reciprocal steps should be made then. It is not possible for the document signed (following the North Korean-US summit in Singapore) to be implemented by one party only," Matvienko said.

" (T) hey are of course negotiating with the US side so that there is some movement toward each other, so that the accepted obligations are fulfilled step by step, so that there is understanding that there cannot be any quick decisions there, as it takes patience, demeanour, a long time and the obligations' fulfilment by the other side," Matvienko continued.

She also quoted him as saying he hoped for Russian backing in weakening US sanctions on North Korea.

NORTH KOREA HOLDS TORCH PARADE

Thousands of North Koreans wielding burning torches and shouting slogans filled Kim Il Sung square Monday in celebration of the country's 70th birthday.

North Korea's torch parades are a unique spectacle, a display of formation marching and running and that requires strict discipline from the participants.

Holding their elbows out at 90 degrees, they dash from position to position to form slogans and other shapes filling the square in the centre of Pyongyang.

"Long live Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism," they cried first as portraits of the country's founder and his son and successor were driven through the plaza.

"Long live the Supreme Leader Comrade Kim Jong-un," they went on, referring to the third generation of the family to rule the country.

"Long live the invincible Workers Party of Korea".

The display was part of the commemorations of the foundation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as the North is officially known, on September 9, 1948, three years after Moscow and Washington divided the peninsula in the closing days of the Second World War.

The anniversary was also marked with a military parade, in which nuclear-armed Pyongyang - engaged in a diplomatic rapprochement with both Seoul and Washington - refrained from showing off the intercontinental ballistic missiles that have seen it subjected to multiple rounds of international sanctions.

It has also staged its renowned Mass Games - a propaganda display on a vast scale - for the first time in five years, this time including footage of Kim meeting Seoul's President Moon Jae-in at their summit in the Demilitarised Zone.

At the torch parade, the paraffin wax candles are not especially heavy, say former participants.

But unlike at the military parade or the subsequent civilian rallies, the same people - most of them students and workers - perform for the whole event, which lasts nearly an hour.

"Let us defend the General Kim Jong-un with our lives," they sang as fireworks filled the sky.


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