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N. Korea commemorates 60th anniversary of Korean War's armistice

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

North Korea commemorated the anniversary Saturday of the suspension of open hostilities in the Korean War in 1953.

Yet even 60 years after the fighting stopped, there are few signs of improvement in North Korea's relations with the United States, South Korea or most of the other 15 countries who sent troops to oppose the North Korean incursion over the 38th Parallel on June 25, 1950.

On Saturday, to mark the end of open war, a major military parade in Pyongyang with the attendance by North Korea's young leader Kim Jong Un is expected and the world is once again watching to see if he makes a rare public address and what he may say.

Recently, the North has been seeking direct talks with the United States, following months of provocations that included a rocket launch and a nuclear-weapon test. However, without some indication from North Korea that it plans to end its nuclear ambitions it will be difficult for the country to entice the United States to the conference table.

In the run-up to the commemoration, North Korea has staged a slew of events to strengthen patriotism and support for the 30-year-old Kim, who succeeded his father fewer than two years ago.

The streets in the capital have been filled with brightly colored signboards claiming "victory" in what it refers to as "the Fatherland Liberation War" against the U.S.-led U.N. and South Korean forces.

Saturday's parade of military hardware, possibly accompanied by a mass rally and precision-stepping soldiers marching in the square named after North Korea's founder and Kim's grandfather Kim Il Sung, is expected to be the culmination of the recent festivities.

The parade could also be a stage for the North to display any upgraded ballistic missile technology.

The previous major military show of force in Pyongyang, on April 15 last year to mark the centenary of Kim Il Sung's birth, was the first time Kim Jong Un spoke publically after replacing his father, Kim Jong Il, who had died a few months earlier.

The armistice signed July 27, 1953, ended open fighting, but a formal peace treaty has never been signed and so the Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war, divided at the 38th Parallel, now one of the world's most heavily militarized borders.

China, which entered the Korean Conflict on the North's side, has sent Vice President Li Yuanchao for the anniversary, a sign of continued amity between the allies, but also possibly a sign that relations are not as close as they once were.

China has expressed unusual displeasure with the North's third nuclear test in February and long-range rocket launch and, according to China's state-run Xinhua News Agency, during a meeting with Kim earlier this week, Li told him that China maintains its position that the Korean Peninsula must be denuclearized to achieve peace in the region.

In trying to reach out to the United States, North Korea has called for signing a peace treaty to replace the armistice to ensure security and it has expressed readiness to rejoin the long-stalled six-party talks with China, Japan, Russia and South Korea on the North's nuclear program.

North Korea insists it will continue its nuclear weapons program to counter "U.S. threats."

The United States, Japan and South Korea demand that North Korea take "concrete and meaningful" steps toward denuclearization before there can be new negotiations.

==Kyodo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/130726/n-korea-commemorates-60th-anniversary-korean-wars-armi