North Korea marks 70th anniversary with somewhat muted military parade

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At the end of the parade, Kim and Chinese envoy Li locked hands and raised their arms to symbolize the countries' traditionally close ties.

This November 29, 2017, file image provided by the North Korean government on November 30, 2017, shows firing of what the North Korean government calls the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, at an undisclosed location in North Korea. We will both prove everyone wrong!

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".

Last year, North Korea displayed its long-range missiles for the world to see, unnerving the White House and prompting a fiery exchange of insults from both sides, leaving many fearing war. There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other!

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

According to the South Korean envoy who met with Kim Jong-un last week, the North Korean leader said his faith in Trump remains unchanged and he wants to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula during the USA president's first term.

The parade allowed Kim to highlight themes of military accomplishment, national development, and worldwide engagement at a time when doubts are arising over his commitment to abandoning nuclear weapons.

The Games are making a comeback for the first time since 2013, . when the North Korean regime celebrated its 65th anniversary with the "Arirang Mass Games".

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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.

The displays - overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, the third member of his family to rule the country - are crucial to Korea-watchers, who observe them closely for clues about its latest advances.

It would be a three-stage rocket which would the largest of its kind ever launched by North Korea.

The anniversary is a major occasion in the North and is being marked with a series of events expected to include a military parade and the return of the "Mass Games" - unique acrobatic shows that are staged on a vast scale.

Instead of missiles, the imagery at Saturday's concert highlighted North Korean landmarks, from its spiritual birthplace Mount Paektu to the Pyongyang skyline, and economic development, with shots of factories, steel plants, and abundant fields of wheat. Washington wants Kim to commit to denuclearisation first, but Pyongyang wants its security guaranteed and a peace agreement formally ending the Korean War.

But this time there was no real trace of the country's nuclear weapons program that has been characteristic of past parades, including one before the Winter Olympics in February. "Unification is the only way Koreans can survive", read a Sunday editorial in communist-party newspaper Rodong Sinmun. He claims to have perfected his nuclear arsenal enough to deter USA aggression and devote his resources to raising the standard of living. This year's spectacle - tickets start at just over $100 and go up to more than $800 per seat - also has a strong economic theme.

There was speculation that Xi might reciprocate for the anniversary - Hu Jintao was the last Chinese president to visit in 2005, and the then premier Wen Jiabao followed suit in 2009. The two leaders pledged to "work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" without setting a timetable or explaining what that means.