North Korea parliament to meet, Kim and cadres in focus
North Korea's rubber stamp parliament will meet in April for an annual session where the secretive and isolated state typically reveals changes to its ruling elite and spending priorities for the coming year, Reuters reported.
The meeting will take place as the North faces pressure to return to nuclear disarmament-for-aid talks and as speculation mounts that reclusive leader Kim Jong-il may soon travel to China to seek economic help from his destitute state's biggest benefactor.
"The second session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will be convened in Pyongyang on April 9," the North's official KCNA news agency said on Saturday in a brief dispatch without offering details.
At last year's session, a gaunt Kim, with thinning hair who had lost his trademark paunch that once pressed against his grey clothes, made his first public appearance after he was suspected of suffering a stroke in 2008.
He was re-elected supreme military ruler and left no doubt about who he saw as his second-in-command when he elevated his brother-in-law Jang Song-taek to a powerful military post.
Analysts said the move was aimed at helping Kim prepare for succession in the state his family has run for more than 60 years as he looks ready to anoint his youngest son as the heir to Asia's only communist dynasty.
The carefully choreographed sessions usually do not touch on the North's atomic ambitions or its negotiations with the outside world to reduce the threat it poses to the economically powerful region in return for aid and better global standing.
Kim, 68 and appearing to be in better health than a year ago, typically does not speak if he decides to attend the annual parliament sessions.