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Pyongyang kicks off preparations for May party congress: source

2016/03/29 09:00

SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has begun preparations for the ruling party's congress slated for May, picking candidates for provincial delegates, a source said Tuesday.

The Workers' Party of Korea plans to hold its first party congress in 36 years in May, where North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will likely unveil new lines of policies. Seoul's spy agency said that the event is expected to be held on May 7.

A source familiar with North Korean affairs said the country started the process to select candidates for delegates at counties and cities for the event in mid-March.

"Given past records, a list of representatives for the party congress may come out by mid-April," the source said.

Around 3,000 delegates are expected to join the dayslong party congress to be held in Pyongyang, it said.

The party congress is likely to serve as a key event that will reveal the North Korean leader's policy direction in his fifth year in power. Kim inherited power following the sudden death of his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011.

He is widely expected to reaffirm his signature policy of pursuing nuclear and economic development in tandem, commonly known as the "byeongjin" policy. Seoul and Washington have warned that the North's dual-track policy is a dead end.

As the North faces tougher U.N. sanctions and unilateral punitive actions by major countries, it won't produce tangible accomplishments on the economic front, analysts said.

In early March, the United Nations Security Council slapped the strongest sanctions on the North in decades over its January nuclear test and long-range rocket launch in February.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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