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N. Korea chooses not to display ICBMs at military parade, eying US

North Korean soldiers march with a float showing late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung during a parade for the 70th anniversary of North Korea's founding day in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. North Korea staged a major military parade, huge rallies and will revive its iconic mass games on Sunday to mark its 70th anniversary as a nation. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, raises hands with China's third highest ranking official, Li Zhanshu, during a parade for the 70th anniversary of North Korea's founding day in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. North Korea staged a major military parade, huge rallies and will revive its iconic mass games on Sunday to mark its 70th anniversary as a nation. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

PYONGYANG (Kyodo) -- North Korea did not display intercontinental ballistic missiles that can target the United States at a military parade on Sunday, signaling leader Kim Jong Un's desire to refrain from provoking U.S. President Donald Trump for the sake of resuming denuclearization talks.

At the parade staged on the 70th anniversary of the country's founding, North Korea also emphasized its friendship with China, with many political analysts saying Kim is keen to ensure support from Beijing to promote negotiations with Washington.

Kim, clad in a black Mao-style suit, reviewed the military parade from a balcony overlooking Kim Il Sung Square, the central Pyongyang area named after his grandfather and North Korea's founder. However, he did not use the occasion to deliver a public speech.

At the end of the parade, Kim and Li Zhanshu, the third-highest ranking official in the ruling Communist Party of China, raised hands together and waved to the audience from the balcony.

Kim was seen frequently smiling and chatting with Li, while a stream of goose-stepping soldiers and columns of tanks passed through the square in the capital. Tens of thousands of soldiers and citizens participated in the parade.

Sunday's military parade was the first since Kim and Trump held their historic summit meeting in June in Singapore. All eyes were on whether ICBMs would be rolled out for the event.

Tanks appear during a military parade in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on Sept. 9, 2018, to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's founding. (Kyodo)

Although Kim promised Trump in June to achieve "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in return for security guarantees from Washington, skepticism has been lingering about North Korea's intention to implement concrete measures toward it.

But in talks with special envoys of South Korean President Moon Jae In on Wednesday in Pyongyang, Kim reiterated his commitment to attaining denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, Seoul said.

Trump has welcomed Kim's latest commitment, fanning expectations that U.S.-North Korea negotiations will move forward.

In a speech at the beginning of the military parade, North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam said, "Our country has become a military power with the strongest national defense capability," without mentioning the nation's nuclear force.

North Korea, meanwhile, has deepened relations with China. Since March, Kim has visited China three times for summit talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Beijing and Pyongyang have agreed to boost their economic ties.

China and North Korea fought together in the 1950-1953 Korean War against the U.S.-led United Nations Command. The two countries have been described as "blood brothers."

Beijing has sought to play a pivotal role in any discussions on replacing the Korean War armistice with a peace treaty.

Kim has recently pledged to bolster the nation's economy instead of developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Along Pyongyang's main roads, banners or placards with slogans lambasting the United States are nowhere to be seen.

North Korea has also agreed to hold the third summit meeting between Moon and Kim in Pyongyang on Sept. 18-20, the South Korean government said.

At Sunday's parade, floats with the words "The Unification of the Fatherland" and "4.27 declaration," moved through the square amid thousands of citizens waving pom-poms and national flags.

At their first summit on April 27, Kim and Moon issued the Panmunjeom Declaration calling for "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and efforts to declare a formal end to the Korean War.

Around 140 foreign journalists have been granted access to cover events related to the founding anniversary, including the military parade in the heart of the capital and planned mass games in the city's May Day Stadium.

The military parade was North Korea's first since Feb. 8 this year, when the country celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army.

At the February parade, Pyongyang displayed what appeared to be intercontinental ballistic missiles like the Hwasong-15 missile, capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to any city on the U.S. mainland, in a thinly veiled threat to Washington.

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