North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called a full meeting of a top committee of the ruling Workers’ Party to address what he described as the “prevailing tense situation”, state media reported.
The gathering of the Central Committee comes after Kim’s Hanoi summit with US President Donald Trump ended without an agreement in February, and as South Korean President Moon Jae-in flies to Washington for talks with the US leader.
But the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) appeared to indicate that Kim may be focussing on Pyongyang’s continued push to develop its economy.
In a meeting with senior officials on Tuesday, the North Korean leader ordered them to display “an attitude befitting the masters of the revolution and construction under the prevailing tense situation and thus follow through on the new strategic line of the Party,” KCNA reported.
Last April, Kim declared that the ruling party’s “new strategic line” would be “socialist economic construction” and its quest for nuclear development was complete.
Kim made “a deep analysis of the matters pending urgent solution in the party and state,” KCNA said, adding that at Wednesday’s meeting the central committee will “decide the new orientation and ways of struggle in line with the need of the prevailing revolutionary situation”.
The meeting also comes ahead of the opening of the country’s rubber-stamp legislature on Thursday.
It would be difficult for Kim to lay out a new policy direction while Trump continues to express a willingness to maintain dialogue, according to Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute.
Instead, Wednesday’s meeting could involve a reshuffle of party officials including Kim Yong Chol, the North’s top envoy for talks with the United States, who has been “blamed the most for the failure of the Hanoi summit”, he said.
“It would signal a green light if he is replaced with a more flexible and practical figure, but if he stays, denuclearisation talks won’t be easy,” said Cheong.
Trump and Kim held their first landmark summit in Singapore last June, where the North Korean leader signed a vaguely worded deal on the “denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.
But the failure by the pair to reach agreement at their second summit in Hanoi – which ended without even a joint statement – raised questions over the future of the wider process.
A senior Pyongyang diplomat told reporters last month that the North was considering suspending nuclear talks with the US.