By Josh Smith
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this week opened a key ruling party meeting, state media reported on Tuesday, a forum he has previously used to make major New Year policy announcements.
The 4th Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) was convened on Monday, state news agency KCNA reported.
The gathering of party and government officials comes as North Korea grapples with compounding economic crises caused by an anti-pandemic lockdown, international sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme, and natural disasters.
It also comes as North Korea marks the 10th anniversary of Kim assuming supreme command of the military after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in 2011.
“The plenary meeting is to review the implementation of main Party and state policies for the year 2021,” the report said.
The meeting would also discuss and decide on strategic and tactical policies and practical steps for “dynamically guiding the struggle of our Party and people to usher in a new period of the development of socialist construction to the next stage of victory,” KCNA said.
Around the new year, Kim has often made major policy announcements, including in 2018 when he announced his interest to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, and in 2019, when he discussed his desire to continue talks with U.S. President Donald Trump.
“Kim has used speeches around the new year holiday in the past to make friendly overtures to the U.S. and South Korea, but also to reveal nuclear weapon developments and other military plans,” NK News, a Seoul-based website that monitors North Korea, said in a report https://www.nknews.org/2021/12/policy-bombshells-and-nye-concert-what-to-expect-as-north-korea-wraps-up-2021 on Monday.
North Korea has said it is open to resuming talks with the United States and the South, but only if Washington and Seoul take steps to end “hostile policies” such as sanctions and military drills.
(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Alistair Bell)