N. Korea set to hold parliamentary meeting

Seoul, April 10 (IANS) North Korea’s rubber-stamp legislature was to hold a once-or-twice-a-year session on Friday, with economic and public health issues expected to take centre stage amid its ongoing fight against the novel coronavirus.

The Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) usually meets in April every year to address the state budget and Cabinet reshuffling, but it has been closely watched from outside for any glimpse into the reclusive state’s stance on foreign affairs, including its stance on denuclearization talks with the US, said the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency.
Friday’s meeting, however, was expected to centre on discussions of major domestic issues, given that Pyongyang has been making all-out efforts to block the outbreak of COVID-19 on its soil.
North Korea is among just a few countries in the world that claim to have no coronavirus infections, generating speculation that it might be hiding an outbreak.
Pyongyang has tightened control of its borders with China, where the coronavirus originate late December. It has also toughened quarantine criteria and restricted the movement of people and goods.
In particular, the border closure with China could weigh on its already moribund economy long crippled by global sanctions, as it depends heavily on the neighboring ally for its trade.
It was unclear whether leader Kim Jong-un will attend the SPA meeting.
Kim attended last year’s meeting to give a policy speech at the session.
Earlier on Friday, North Korean state media reported that Kim has supervised a mortar firing drill, Yonhap News Agency reported.
It did not provide details on when and where the drill took place, but such military activity is usually reported a day after it happened.
Friday’s session was also drawing keen attention as Pyongyang could send a message to the US amid a stalemate in denuclearization talks, which have stalled since a no-deal summit in Hanoi between Kim and American President Donald Trump in February 2019.