Foreign guests are unseen for North’s Congress

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Foreign guests are unseen for North’s Congress

North Korea’s 7th Congress of the Worker’s Party of Korea, to be held early May for the first time in 36 years, may not be attended by foreign guests, a government source said on Tuesday, amid mounting pressure from the international community after a series of provocations.

This will be the top event for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who is likely to look back on his achievements and declare a new vision for the country in a bid to consolidate power.

The 33-year-old leader Kim, who took power in 2011 after the late leader Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack, has recently boasted of the nation’s development of nuclear weapons and advancement of ballistic missile technologies, which was seen as an unprecedented move for the country.

“As for the 7th Congress, there have been no signs that North Korea has waged ‘invitation diplomacy,’” said a government source, adding that it seems North Korea acknowledges that their diplomatic position has shrunk following the recent provocations and international sanctions.

The UN Security Council has imposed its strongest-ever sanctions against the North to punish its fourth nuclear test and long-range ballistic missile test, which were carried out early this year in defiance of the UNSC resolution.

At the 6th Congress, held in 1980, a total of 177 representatives from 118 countries attended, including the vice chairman of the Communist Party of China, who would become its president three years later, Li Xiannian. In 1970, at the 5th Congress, no foreign guests participated in the event, possibly due to the Sino-Soviet border conflict that began in March 1969.

According to the South’s intelligence agents and government sources, the event is likely to start on May 7 and last for at least two days.

As it will be the first such assembly for the leader, the South Korean government is watching closely to determine whether a group of senior officials will retire and be replaced by younger officials, a government source said.

BY KIM SO-HEE [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]

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