North Korea's Mass Games highlight diplomatic progress with advanced technology

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Tens of thousands of people gathered in Kim Il Sung Square on Sunday to watch as tanks and artillery rolled by next to goosestepping soldiers and marching bands in a major military parade to mark North Korea's 70th anniversary.

Although North Korea stages military parades nearly every year, and held one just before the Olympics began in South Korea in February this year, the latest parade came at a particularly sensitive time.

Unlike in previous years, there were no inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) on display.

Some defectors and human rights activists criticize North Korea's group performances, including the Mass Games and military parades, for glossing over the country's human rights record and placing extreme demands on performers, especially children.

North Korea rolled out some of its latest tanks and marched its best-trained goose-stepping units through Kim Il Sung Square in a major military parade on Sunday to mark its 70th anniversary, but held back its most advanced missiles and devoted almost half of the event to civilian efforts to build the domestic economy. Pompeo was scheduled to make the trip in August as a follow-up on a framework agreement that Trump reached with Kim Jong Un during a summit in Singapore this summer.

Any display of longer-range missiles would have cast doubt on North Korea's commitment to denuclearisation, he added.

But North Korea refrained from displaying its intercontinental missiles during Sunday's parade, a conspicuous absence that Trump hailed as "a big and very positive statement".

- This report was updated at 8:41 a.m. "We will prove everyone wrong!"

With tensions once again on the rise, a parade featuring the very missiles that so unnerved Mr Trump past year - and led to a unsafe volley of insults from both leaders - could have been seen as a deliberate provocation. "Much better than before I took office".

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Other floats called for the reunification of the Korean peninsula - a theme that ran throughout the Olympics in South Korea earlier this year, where an envoy from the North including Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong met with South Korean president Moon Jae-in.

But talks between North Korea and the United States have stalled despite their first-ever summit in Singapore in April.

Instead, the country's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam addressed the assembled crowd with a focus on economic development rather than nuclear might. Washington wants North Korea to commit to denuclearization, while Pyongyang is demanding security assurances and other concessions in advance of dismantling its nuclear arsenal.

North Korea's state-run media published Friday what it said was an "indictment" by its South Korean wing, denouncing USA forces on the peninsula and calling their withdrawal "the irresistible trend of the times".

"The Chinese Party and government took seriously (our) friendly, cooperative relationship with North Korea".

Kim Jong Un and his South Korean counterpart Moon will meet in Pyongyang on September 18-20 for the third time this year and discuss "practical measures" towards denuclearisation, officials in Seoul have said.

For worldwide consumption at least, Kim Jong-un's flagship "Byungjin" policy line, which focused on joint development of the economy and strategic weapons, has been watered down, with the focus now shifting to economic progress and downplaying the arms.

Officials attend the ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in this undated photo released on Saturday by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

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