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North Korea holds key group meeting to discuss defense, diplomacy

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends meeting on diplomacy, defense strategy amid ‘changing international situation’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended the opening of a key party meeting to determine his country’s diplomatic and defense strategy amid a “changing international situation,” according to state media.

Kim attended eight extended plenary meetings of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), which opened on Friday, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Saturday.

The meeting, which is likely to take place over several days, will discuss “state diplomatic and defense strategies to deal with the changing international situation,” as well as review economic activity in the first half of this year, KCNA said, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

According to Yonhap, the meeting was called to “intensify Sino-US animosity and Russia’s war against Ukraine” as North Korea seeks to strengthen ties with Russia and China.

“Pyongyang faces growing security cooperation between South Korea, the United States and Japan, with the three countries’ defense chiefs agreeing to operate a system to share real-time North Korean missile warning data within the year,” Yonhap added.

North Korea fired two short-range missiles from its east coast on Thursday, less than an hour after it warned South Korean and US troops of an “inevitable” response to the previous day’s military drills. North Korea has long said such drills threaten its security and are conducted in preparation for a possible invasion of its territory one day.

Yonhap also reported on Friday the arrival of a US nuclear-powered guided missile submarine (SSGN) at a naval base in Busan, off the country’s southeast coast.

The arrival of the 18,000-ton USS Michigan SSGN marks the first time in six years that a US submarine of its class has docked in South Korea, and comes amid increased rhetoric and test missile launches by North Korea in response to growing US military cooperation with Seoul. Washington.

Weapons tested by North Korea so far this year include a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile and various short-range weapons.

Experts say Kim’s aggressive weapons push has put further pressure on North Korea’s struggling economy, already battered by decades of mismanagement, crippling US-led sanctions on its nuclear weapons program and border closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have reduced trade with China. . , its main ally and economic lifeline.

Thursday’s missile launch was North Korea’s first rocket activity on May 31, when a long-range rocket carrying the country’s first spy satellite crashed off the west coast of the Korean peninsula.

South Korea’s defense ministry said Friday that military search crews have recovered what they believe are parts of a crashed North Korean rocket. The US and South Korean militaries will analyze the wreckage. South Korea’s defense ministry has released images of white, metallic cylinders, which some experts say could be rocket fuel tanks.

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