N Korea calls rare Parliament session, silent on agenda
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Last Updated: Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 15:10
  
Seoul: North Korea has called a rare second session of parliament, with a possible major announcement in store, two months after a meeting which changed the constitution to boost leader Kim Jong-il's powers.

A brief dispatch by the official KCNA news agency did not say what was on the agenda for the new session of the rubber stamp Supreme People's Assembly.

Analysts said the extra session, which state media said would be held on June 7, could provide an opportunity to reveal crucial personnel changes or new economic projects with the destitute country's major ally, China, following Kim's trip in early May.

Kim did not attend the last session, on April 9, which amended the constitution to strengthen the powers of the National Defense Commission, the focus of leadership in the reclusive state which he heads as chairman.

Analysts said the session could also mark the 10th anniversary of a summit between the two Koreas by overturning pledges of reconciliation made then in light of accusations in the South it was responsible for sinking a South Korean naval vessel in March.

"There could be a review of the 10 years of North-South relations ... and a decision to change policy in the wake of the Cheonan incident, which (the North) denies responsibility for," said Paik Hak-soon of the Sejong Institute near Seoul.

Such a move would sharply elevate tension on the Korean peninsula as the South prepares to make a formal response to the sinking of its navy ship, widely believed by officials in Seoul to have been torpedoed by North Korea.

A team of international investigators probing the sinking, after they lifted the two severed parts of the 1,200-tonne corvette Cheonan near disputed waters between the Koreas, will release their findings on Thursday.

North Korea has accused the government of President Lee Myung-bak of trying to use the incident for political gain ahead of local elections on June 2.

South Korean President Lee spoke to President Barack Obama on Tuesday and discussed a coordinated response to the ship sinking, Lee's office said.

Obama said he "had full confidence and support for the South Korean response and the work of the team of international investigators" probing the incident, South Korea's presidential Blue House said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Seoul next week to discuss follow-up measures to the probe, it said.

Bureau Report


First Published: Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 15:10


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