In North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s latest efforts to display his ties with Moscow and Beijing in view of growing confrontations with the US, the country has invited the visiting Chinese delegates and Russian artists to a paramilitary parade showcasing rocket launchers, state media said on Saturday (September 9).
The midnight parade in the capital, Pyongyang, which was to celebrate North Korea's 75th founding anniversary, came amid reports that Kim would travel to Russia soon to hold a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin focussing on the North Korean arm sales amid Ukraine war.
China has sent a delegation led by Vice Premier Liu Guozhong to North Korea's anniversary celebrations and Russia sent a military song and dance group.
Speculations began in the South Korean media that the lack of Russian government officials at the festivities in Pyongyang could be related to preparations for a summit between Kim and Putin, which according to the expectations of Washington, could take place within the month.
According to some U.S. reports, it could happen as early as next week.
South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers in a closed-door briefing Thursday that North Korea and Russia could also be arranging an unexpected “surprise” route for Kim's visit to avoid potential venues reported by the media.
However, North Korea has not confirmed any such plans for Kim to visit Russia.
KCNA said that Kim received letters from Putin and Xi Jinping on the anniversary, in which both leaders said that their countries' strengthening ties with North Korea would contribute to the region's peace and stability.
Saturday's parade was centered around paramilitary organizations and public security forces protecting Pyongyang, rather than the military units that handle his nuclear-capable weapons systems.
In July, Kim invited delegations led by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Li Hongzhong to a huge military parade in Pyongyang, in which he displayed his most powerful weapons, including intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to target the US mainland.
A day before the parade, Kim took Shoigu on a tour of a domestic arms exhibition, which suggested North Korea's backing of the Russian war against Ukraine and added to suspicions the North Korea was willing to supply arms to Russia.
(With AP inputs)