SEOUL – North Korea’s Kim Jong Un marked the country’s founding anniversary on Saturday with a parade of paramilitary groups and diplomatic exchanges in which he vowed to deepen ties with China and Russia.
Mr Kim observed the parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang and held talks with a visiting Chinese delegation, according to state media KCNA.
The parade displayed rocket launchers hidden in delivery lorries and tractors towing troops and weapons, highlighting the militia’s role as guerrilla fighters in a war.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a letter expressing his willingness to strengthen strategic communication and working-level cooperation.
In a message to Mr Kim, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the North Korean leader and called for stronger ties “on all fronts”.
Professor Leif-Eric Easley of Ewha University in Seoul said: “Growing China-Russia-North Korea cooperation and Xi skipping the G-20 summit in India give the appearance of a widening fissure in Asia’s geopolitical landscape.”
He added: “Most stakeholders in the region want to avoid a new Cold War, but this looks increasingly difficult as Beijing and Moscow prop up Pyongyang and North Korea aligns itself with China and Russia’s challenges to the international order.”
An annual two-day summit of the Group of 20 countries that kicked off on Saturday in New Delhi will be dominated by the West, with Mr Xi skipping it and Mr Putin also absent.
Mr Kim is expected to travel to Russia in September to meet Mr Putin to discuss supplies of weapons to Moscow to support its invasion of Ukraine.
North Korea supplements its already large military with various paramilitary, reserve and security groups such as the army-affiliated Worker-Peasant Red Guards. REUTERS
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