A rare session of North Korea's parliament scheduled to begin today is being watched closely for signs of succession. Analysts of North Korea's opaque politics believe Kim Jong-un, the son of leader Kim Jong-il (69), could be appointed to the National Defense Commission.
This parliamentary session is the first major national meeting since Kim Jong-un made his political debut last September. His predicted appointment to the defense body would cement the succession process, and make him the country's second most powerful man and the next step in the path to formally naming him as successor.
Analysts expect the succession process to be formally completed by April 2012, the centenary of the birth of late President Kim Il-sung, father of the current leader.
Others question whether Kim Jong Un will ascend to a major National Defense Commission post only six months after being made a four-star general and assuming senior Workers' Party posts.
Separately, North Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan is reported to be in Beijing to meet with his Chinese counterpart, as part of efforts to re-start international talks. China and North Korea have expressed readiness to restart the six-nation talks on ending North Korea's nuclear programs "without preconditions".