SEOUL -- South Korea's government was monitoring a meeting of the North's Supreme People's Assembly that was presumed to be held Wednesday for indications of the reclusive state's foreign policy direction, ahead of Pyongyang's summits with Seoul and Washington in coming weeks.
State coverage of the nation's top legislative body, which meets once or twice a year, could contain a message for the outside world from leader Kim Jong Un. The South's Ministry of Unification is watching to see if the North gives any sign of its intentions, it said Wednesday. As of early morning Thursday, North Korean media had yet to report on the session.
Wednesday marked the sixth anniversary of Kim's tenure as North Korea's leader. He has only begun actively pursuing diplomacy in recent months. At a Monday meeting of the Politburo of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, the first since 2015, Kim reportedly discussed developments toward dialogue with the U.S. and described "strategic and tactical matters" for the party to uphold.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency on Tuesday reported for the first time on the plan for leaders of the two Koreas to meet at a Southern facility in the border village of Panmunjom later this month, as well as on the prospect of summit meetings with the U.S.
At a Pyongyang conference Wednesday marking Kim's six years in power, broadcast on state television, Workers' Party Central Committee Vice Chairman Choe Ryong Hae said the leader had highlighted the North as a global military power and elevated it to the position of a "strategic" state. He stopped short of calling the state a nuclear power like he did a year earlier at the same conference.
There were also predictions that decisions would be made at Wednesday's session on new leadership of state organs. One position in question was that of Kim Yong Nam, the 90-year-old head of the Supreme People's Assembly Presidium. Last year, the assembly created a diplomatic committee and installed Ri Su Yong, a Workers' Party vice chairman, as its chair.
The Supreme People's Assembly is the North's highest legislative body. It appoints members to key bodies such as the state affairs commission and the cabinet, handles constitutional and legal revisions, and deliberates on budgets. Practical matters are taken care of by the Presidium.