No foreign delegates at Pyongyang assembly

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No foreign delegates at Pyongyang assembly

While there has been interest to see if China would send a delegation to North Korea’s seventh Workers’ Party congress, which began on Friday, officials here point out that there does not appear to be any significant foreign attendees.

One South Korean diplomatic source noted that “it seems there was no invitation [from North Korea to China] in the first place.”

Other government officials here likewise said that there do not currently appear to be any significant foreign officials taking part in the congress, Pyongyang’s top political gathering.

In contrast, when the Workers’ Party held their sixth congress in 1980, at that time headed by North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, grandfather of the current leader Kim Jong-un, over 170 delegates from 118 countries attended, including presidents and prime ministers and former Chinese President Li Xiannian, at that time vice chairman of the Communist Party.

However, for its fifth party congress in 1970, there were no foreign guests.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday said that it had no relevant information on whether Pyongyang had extended an invitation to Beijing to attend the congress. Beijing has previously emphasized that the North’s party congress is a “domestic political event.” Chinese media reported that some 130 journalists visited Pyongyang for the seventh congress.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said during a Vietnam visit on Friday that, as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un moves to solidify his power, Tokyo will watch the congress to see “how policies and executive officials will be decided upon.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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