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Politics

North Korea to hold party congress around time of Biden inauguration

First meet since 2016 to be watched for Kim Jong Un's stance on new US administration

SEOUL -- North Korea will convene its first ruling party congress in nearly five years in early January, where leader Kim Jong Un could signal his stance toward the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.

The Workers' Party Political Bureau made the decision at a Tuesday meeting attended by Kim in Pyongyang, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported. The outlet did not give a specific date for the congress.

The meeting will be watched for clues to North Korea's approach to Biden, who succeeds current U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 20.

Kim declared North Korea a nuclear power at the last party congress in May 2016. He later accelerated nuclear and missile development in the country, unveiling ballistic missiles believed to put the U.S. within range. Despite a historic diplomatic overture by Trump, denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington have stalled.

The congress is described as the "supreme organ" of the Workers' Party, and is responsible for approving long-term national strategies. Kim is expected to unveil a new five-year plan for economic development at the upcoming meeting.

North Korea is believed to be experiencing supply shortages and other economic hardships after essentially sealing its border with China in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Kim could use the congress to claim success in holding back the spread of the virus.

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