Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

April 1, 2013

NKorea's parliament meets amid nuclear tension

(Continued)

North Korea's nuclear weapons are a "treasure of a reunified country" not to be traded for "billions of dollars," according to a statement issued by state media after the meeting. North Korea's "nuclear armed forces represent the nation's life, which can never be abandoned as long as the imperialists and nuclear threats exist on earth."

Sunday marked the first time for Kim to preside over the committee meeting, a top decision-making body tasked with organizing and guiding the party's major projects. The last plenary session was held in 2010, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry, and before that in 1993.

The plenary statement also called for strengthening the moribund economy, which Kim has put an emphasis on in his public statements since taking power. The U.N. says two-thirds of the country's 24 million people face regular food shortages.

The North also named former Prime Minister Pak Pong Ju as a member of the party central committee's powerful Political Bureau, a sign that he could again play a key role in the North's economic policymaking process. Pak reportedly was sacked as premier in 2007 after proposing a wage system seen as too similar to U.S.-style capitalism.

Pak is reform-minded and his promotion sets him up for further advancement and "for him to take the lead in the North's economic policies," said Cheong Seong-jang at South Korea's Sejong Institute.

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