May 18, 2010 / 2:54 AM / 10 years ago

Announcement possible as North Korea recalls parliament

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has called a rare second session of parliament, with a possible major announcement in store two months after a meeting in which it changed the constitution to boost leader Kim Jong-il’s powers.

Analysts said the extra session, which state media said would be held on June 7, could provide an opportunity to reveal crucial personnel changes or new economic projects with the destitute country’s major ally, China, following Kim’s trip in early May.

It could also use the session to mark the 10th anniversary of a summit between the two Koreas in light of accusations in the South it was responsible for sinking a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, in March.

“There could be a review of the 10 years of North-South relations ... in the wake of the Cheonan incident, which it denies responsibility for,” said Paik Hak-soon of the Sejong Institute near Seoul.

North Korea has accused the government of President Lee Myung-bak of trying to use the incident for political gains ahead of local elections on June 2.

A brief dispatch by the official KCNA news agency did not say what was on the agenda for the new session of the rubber stamp Supreme People’s Assembly.

Kim did not attend the last session, on April 9, which amended the constitution to strengthen the powers of the National Defence Commission, the focus of leadership in the reclusive state which he heads as chairman.

South Korean President Lee spoke to U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday and discussed a coordinated response to the ship sinking, Lee’s office said.

Obama said he “had full confidence and support for the South Korean response and the work of the team of international investigators” probing the incident, South Korea’s presidential Blue House said.

Additional reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner and Nick Macfie

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