Pyongyang ready for 70th anniversary party

N Korea holds military parade without advanced missiles

North Korea holds military parade to celebrate 70th anniversary

Residents of Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, trained for months for the anniversary and held up the bouquets to spell out words and slogans that can be seen from the VIP viewing area.

Trump has said Kim's recent statement that he wants to denuclearize North Korea during Trump's tenure as president was "a very positive statement".

This gallery was curated by Associated Press photo editor Wally Santana in Bangkok.

The parade allowed Kim to highlight themes of military accomplishment, national development, and global engagement at a time when doubts are arising over his commitment to abandoning nuclear weapons. A running commentary throughout the show pointed out the importance of following Kim's economic and development strategy, while significantly playing down the role of the military and not once mentioning North Korea's nuclear weapons.

There had been speculation that Chinese president Xi Jinping might make his first trip to Pyongyang for the parade, but in the end he sent Li Zhanzhu, the head of the National People's Congress and the third in rank in the Communist Party hierarchy.

"It looks like the North Koreans really tried to tone down the military nature of this", said Chad O'Carroll, managing director of Korea Risk Group.

Washington is seeking the "final, fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea", while Pyongyang has only publicly affirmed its commitment to working towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, a euphemism open to interpretation on both sides.

The parade, which appeared to be smaller than similar events in the past, was split into two sections, civilian and military.

Washington wants North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program while Kim wants security concessions and a formal agreement ending the Korean War.

This year is of special historic significance for China-DPRK relations, said Li, adding that the three meetings between Xi and Kim had ushered in a new historic stage of the bilateral ties. "Much better than before I took office".

Despite the display of military might, which included tank battalions, rocket launcher and military aircraft that formed the number 70th above the square, there was no display of intercontinental ballistic missiles, something everyone was watching for.

The senior statesman called on the military to be ready to work to help build the economy.

This year's celebration, however, did not feature the isolated nation's most advanced missiles.

The decision not to include the missiles came days after Kim expressed faith in Trump's efforts to settle a nuclear impasse between the two countries, according to South Korean officials who met with the North Korean leader on Thursday.

The North also refrained from immediately televising the event, though North Korean media were out in force to film it, deploying booms and - for possibly the first time - drones with cameras.

No ICMBs were showcased in Pyongyang as the country celebrated its 70th anniversary on Sunday.

It will also allow the Kremlin to discuss the dramatic rapprochement between Trump and Kim Jong-un with key regional players.

Later on Sunday, the celebrations will continue with the opening of what are known as North Korea's Mass Games, a synchronized display of gymnastics and dance performed by tens of thousands of people working in unison. Ticket sales to tourists from China and Europe are reportedly brisk despite prices that start at 100 euros and go all the way up to 800 euros for VIP seating.

In the letter, President Xi hailed Mr Kim's "focused efforts to develop the economy and improve people's livelihood" through his "new strategic line".

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