Kim gains more power in N.Korea leadership shuffle

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Three of the senior officials involved in nuclear negotiations with the United States have been re-elected or newly elected to members of Kim Jong Un's state commission, including former military intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol, who travelled to Washington and met Trump twice ahead of Kim Jong Un's two summits with the USA president previous year.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), on the other hand, said the summit failed to produce concrete steps in efforts to get the North to give up its nuclear weapons.

The 687 lawmakers in the nominal parliament are elected for a period of five years, while turnout at the polls in March was over 90 per cent.

Trump, speaking ahead of closed-door talks at the White House with Moon, said it "isn't the right time" for signing off on sanctions exemptions for inter-Korean projects, including the reopening of the Kaesong industrial facility and Mount Kumgang tourism site, which Moon and Kim agreed to during their third summit in September a year ago.

Diplomatic attempts to break the deadlock over denuclearisation have faltered since Kim and Trump parted without an agreement after two days of talks in Hanoi at the end of February.


But Moon's plan to unveil details of such projects on 1 March, right after the Hanoi summit, was scrapped and he is under pressure from opponents on the right. He said he was open to discussing smaller steps, such as helping to ease North Korea's humanitarian problems, but that, in general, the US wants sanctions to remain.

FILE - Choe Ryong Hae, a close aide of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, attends a meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Nov. 20, 2014.

"We want sanctions to remain in place", said Trump while in the Oval Office with Moon.

The main delegate of the U.S. negotiating team and one of the heads of North Korean intelligence, Kim Yong-chol, maintained his position in the State Affairs Commission, as well as another key figure in the denuclearization talks, Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho.

North Korea is expected to convene a session of its legislature, the Supreme People's Assembly, on Thursday, while US President Donald Trump is expected to hold a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in later on Thursday.


Kim earlier this week insisted Pyongyang would overcome the effect of sanctions by developing the socialist economy, telling party officials to push ahead with "self-reliance", KCNA said.

Choe was one of the three officials sanctioned by the U.S. in December over allegations of rights abuses.

According to analysts at NK News, a website that monitors North Korea, Mr Pak helped oversee a process of "radical reform" in the economy that helped it survive sanctions.

Some of those reforms earned the ire of Mr Kim Jong Il, who led North Korea at the time.

The agency reports that Kim Jae Ryong was chosen as premier of the cabinet.


Choe directs the North's "departments that perpetrate the regime's brutal state-sponsored censorship activities, human rights violations and abuses", US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement in December.

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