BEIJING KYODO, STAFF REPORT - North Korea’s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong Nam will attend this weekend’s event in Moscow to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, official media said Monday.
Russia had initially suggested that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would be part of its ceremony on Saturday marking victory over Nazi Germany. But the Kremlin last week said the leader, presumed to be 32 years old, would not come to Moscow due to North Korea’s “internal affairs.”
Russia’s announcement has fueled speculation ranging from instability in North Korea to Kim’s lack of confidence in sharing the stage with other leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The trip would have been Kim’s first abroad since he inherited power following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in 2011.
North Korea had not mentioned anything about who would attend the war ceremony until the official Korean Central News Agency reported Monday that Kim, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, would represent Pyongyang.
Meanwhile, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping told journalists Monday Kim had canceled his planned trip because of internal scheduling matters, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
“As for North Korea and the absence of their leader, it is a decision made by their own leader according to their schedule,” it quoted Cheng as saying.