With no long-range missiles on display, North Korea staged a military parade on Sunday focused on conventional arms, peace and economic development as it marked the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding.
The reduced display compared to past years earned a thank you note from U.S. President Donald Trump, who hailed it as a “big and very positive statement from North Korea.”
Trump on Twitter quoted a Fox News description of the event without long-range nuclear missiles as a sign of North Korea’s “commitment to denuclearize.”
“Thank you To Chairman Kim. We will both prove everyone wrong! There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other! Much better than before I took office,” Trump tweeted.
In Pyongyang, line upon line of goose-stepping soldiers and columns of tanks shook the ground before giving way to chanting crowds waving flags and flowers as they passed a review stand where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sat with a special envoy from China, as well as other visiting foreigners.
Kim told the envoy, Chinese parliament chief Li Zhanshu, that North Korea was focusing on economic development and hopes to learn from China’s experience in this regard, Chinese state television reported.
“North Korea upholds the consensus of the Singapore meeting between the leaders of North Korea and the United States and has taken steps for it and hopes the United States takes corresponding steps, to jointly promote the political resolution process for the peninsula issue,” the report paraphrased Kim as saying.
The parade highlight themes of military accomplishment, national development, and international engagement at a time when doubts are arising over Kim’s commitment to abandoning nuclear weapons.
Unlike in previous years, there were no inter-continental missiles on display. And there were no nuclear tests to mark the holiday, as has happened in each of the last two years.
North Korea routinely uses major holidays to showcase its military capabilities and the latest developments in missile technology.
But that has lessened this year, underlining Kim’s stated aim for denuclearizing the Korean peninsula and his recent meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and summits with Trump in Singapore and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing and Dalian.