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N.Korea sets date for parliament after delay
Updated: 2005-04-01 11:19

SEOUL - North Korea on Friday set a date for its parliament to meet, after the state announced in an unprecedented move last month it would postpone its regular meeting of the Supreme People's Assembly.

The official KCNA news agency said in a one-sentence report the third session of the 11th Supreme People's Assembly would meet on April 11, without offering an explanation for the delay. The regular session of parliament was originally set for March 9.

Analysts had speculated the North may have canceled March's SPA meeting because its leaders wanted to focus attention on an international effort to coax the country to return to talks on scrapping its nuclear programs.

Analysts also speculated the North has had trouble formulating its economic policies, while some have suggested Pyongyang did not want to bring the delegates together when the North was battling an outbreak of bird flu.

The assembly is North Korea's top legislative body and approves economic policies and personnel appointments.

KCNA reported the sessions that had been "postponed in accordance with a proposal of deputies of all fronts of socialists construction, will be convened on April 11, according to the March 31 decision of the SPA presidium."

The delay also added fuel to the arguments of those who say the North's leader Kim Jong-il has a tenuous grip on power.

The spring assembly session is called to settle the previous year's spending and to approve a new budget. Major economic policy measures are also adopted.

Premier Pak Pong-ju, one of the main architect's of the North's fledgling economic reforms, was in China last week to talk about economic cooperation with the North's main benefactor. Chinese officials also pressed him to have Pyongyang return to six-party talks aimed at curbing its nuclear ambitions.

On Thursday, North Korea said it wants the talks on its nuclear programs to be upgraded into comprehensive disarmament discussions now that it has become a nuclear state. The North declared on Feb. 10 that it possessed nuclear weapons.

China has hosted three inconclusive rounds of the talks that also include North and South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia.

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