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North Korea marks 70th anniversary with somewhat muted military parade

10 September 2018

Pyongyang residents, who trained for months for the anniversary, held up the bouquets to spell out words and slogans.

The spectacle, months in the making, will center on a military parade and mass games that will likely put both advanced missiles and leader Kim Jong Un's hopes for a stronger economy front and center.

This gallery was curated by Associated Press photo editor Wally Santana in Bangkok.

The absence of military might from the parade echoes actions taken by North Korea to reassure the USA that they are still working toward decnuclearizing the peninsula - an agreement Trump and Kim singed during June's summit in Singapore.

News 1 reported Friday there have been talks between Pyongyang and the United Nations Command to cooperate on the excavation of us military remains on the North's side of Panmunjom.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had also confirmed on Saturday that he had received a letter from Kim for President Donald Trump.

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Since the beginning of the year, Kim Jong-un has made three visits to China, met once with Trump and twice with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, "and he did not meet Putin once", Lankov noted.

And tens of thousands of civilians in the parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's founding as well.

Airplanes forming the number 70 fly in formation and fire flares during a parade for the 70th anniversary of North Korea's founding day in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018.

Washington wants Pyongyang to move decisively toward dismantling its nuclear weapons program, but North Korea insists it first wants a declaration that the 1950-53 Korean War is over, as a way of helping guarantee its security and build trust.

Some defectors and human rights activists criticize North Korea's group performances, including the Mass Games and military parades, for glossing over the country's human rights record and placing extreme demands on performers, especially children.

Instead, the country's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam addressed the assembled crowd with a focus on economic development rather than nuclear might.

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Yet this year, following Kim's multi-polar charm offensive - which some pundits believe is a desperate strategy to break out of his global isolation, while others believe it is a a natural progression now that he has essentially finalized his nuclear deterrent - Kim and Xi have met three times.

The military parade held in Pyongyang involved tanks, artilleries and goose-stepping troops walking past Kim and his foreign delegates, but ICBMs were not displayed during the two-hour event that ended in the morning.

"That choice alone suggests Kim's intention to underline the seriousness of his "New Strategic Line, ' announced earlier this year that privileges the country's economic betterment after the 'completion" of the country's nuclear deterrent last year", said Ankit Panda, a strategic expert and adjunct senior fellow in the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists. "Unification is the only way Koreans can survive", said an editorial in North Korea's party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

Kim and Moon will meet in Pyongyang on September 18-20 for the third time this year and discuss "practical measures" towards denuclearisation, officials in Seoul have said.

At one point jets trailing red, white and blue smoke - the colors of the North Korean flag - roared above the Juche Tower, the stone monument to Kim Il Sung's political philosophy. He claims to have perfected his nuclear arsenal enough to deter US aggression and devote his resources to raising the nation's standard of living. "He had promised a "grand celebration" of the foundation day, but there were not many things to celebrate on nuclear talks or economic development".

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North Korea marks 70th anniversary with somewhat muted military parade