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World - Asia/Pacific

North Korea set to convene parliament in April

North Korea

March 18, 1999
Web posted at: 12:02 a.m. EST (0502 GMT)

TOKYO (CNN) -- North Korea said Thursday it will convene a full session of its parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly, next month -- an irregular event in the reclusive Stalinist country.

"The second session of the 10th SPA is to be called here on April 7," said the official Korean Central News Agency in a report monitored in Tokyo.

It did not say what would be discussed at the parliamentary session.

North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament was last convened in September for the first time in four years to revise the communist state's constitution and name de facto leader Kim Jong Il as head of state.

In a series of constitutional changes, it abolished the post of president, which had been vacant since the death in July 1994 of "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung, founder of the nation and Kim Jong Il's father.

The revised constitution adopted in September stipulates that a regular parliamentary session is called once or twice a year.

More food aid flagged

Meanwhile, one day after it settled a nuclear dispute with Pyongyang, the United States said on Wednesday it was considering donating another 200,000 metric tons of food aid to North Korea.

"We're going to evaluate a further response (of food aid to alleviate famine in North Korean) and announce our decision as soon as it's made," State Department deputy spokesman James Foley said.

He also said it was expected that the U.N. World Food Program would make another appeal for emergency food assistance for North Korea later this year and the United States would respond to that request as well.

He made his comments one day after Pyongyang agreed to allow the United States to inspect a huge underground site that Washington suspects is the beginning of a renewed North Korean effort to build nuclear weapons.

The United States, a major donor, last year pledged 500,000 metric tons of food aid to North Korea, whose economy has virtually collapsed.

Resulting food shortages have caused malnutrition and starvation on a scale that has not been officially quantified but which the international community believes to be massive.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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