Posted September. 24, 2010 19:49,
North Korea has promoted its three top diplomats for U.S. affairs in the run-up to the conference of the North`s ruling Workers` Party next week.
The (North) Korean Central News Agency said Thursday that First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju was appointed vice premier. Kang has headed nuclear negotiations and diplomacy with Washington since 1993, when the first nuclear crisis with Pyongyang occurred.
Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan was also promoted to first vice foreign minister and was replaced as vice foreign minister by his deputy Ri Yong Ho.
The report did not elaborate on the promotions, but experts say they reflect the North`s intent to step up negotiations with the U.S. to resolve Pyongyang`s nuclear program after the conference.
The radio station (North) Korean Central Broadcasting Station quoted a preparatory committee for the conference Monday as saying the conference will be held in Pyongyang Tuesday next week.
The Korean Central News Agency also said the same day, "Representatives of the Korean People`s Army and political bureau of the Workers` Party had Dear Leader Kim Jong Il as head of the conference."
This is the first announcement by North Korean media of the conference`s opening date.
On June 26, North Korean media said the conference would be held in early September under the bureau`s decision made three days earlier to elect officials of the party`s governing organizations.
Pyongyang has delayed the conference without a clear explanation, however. In Tuesday`s news report, it also did not go into details on the reason for the delay.
In South Korea, officials said, "What is clear is that the North has resolved the cause of delay."
According to rules of the Workers` Party, the conference should convene between party conventions held every five years to discuss urgent issues on the party line and policies.
The conference is drawing huge attention since it could appoint as successor to Kim Jong Il his youngest son Jong Un, as well as an elite group to take the lead in the power transfer.
The North could also present new economic policies on opening and reform at the event.