North Korea promotes 3 key diplomats in reshuffle
Seoul: North Korea said on Thursday it promoted three senior officials involved in nuclear negotiations with the United States in a reshuffle ahead of its biggest political convention in decades.
First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju, who negotiated a deal with the US in 1994 to freeze and ultimately dismantle North Korea's nuclear reactor in exchange for economic aid, was promoted to vice premier, who oversees the country's foreign policy, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported.
The legislature also promoted Pyongyang's top nuclear envoy, Kim Kye Gwan, and his deputy, Ri Yong Ho, to first vice foreign minister — the No. 2 position in the ministry — and vice foreign minister, respectively, KCNA said.
No reasons were given for their promotions in the brief KCNA dispatches, but the announcement came days before the North convenes its ruling Communist Party's biggest convention, where observers have speculated leader Kim Jong Il may promote his son to pave the way for his succession.