60 years after war, N Korea military parades through Pyongyang
Marking 60 years to Korean War, belligerent North holds extensive military parade together with Chinese VP, displays never before seen missiles; while in US, Obama honors veterans, South Korea – which he called 'bedrock' of regional stability
Meanwhile, in the US President Barack Obama delivered remarks Saturday during a commemorative ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall.
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The 1950-1953 Korean war pitted North Korean and Chinese troops against US-led United Nations and South Korean forces. It ended on July 27, 1953, 60 years ago Saturday, with the signing of an armistice, but not a formal peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula in a technical state of war and divided at the 38th parallel between its communist north and democratic south.
Military parade (Photo: AFP)
At least 2.5 million people were killed in the fighting.
At the military parade, N Korea's leader Kim Jong-un was joined by Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao on the podium overlooking Pyongyang's main Kim Il Sung square to inspect a massive throng of soldiers in goosestep and a display of weapons including its mid-range missiles.
Goosestepping (Photo: AFP)
Korean veterns (Photo: AP)
Dancers parade along side soldiers (Photo: AP)
Kim clad in black exchanged words with Li through an interpreter but did not make public remarks at the parade, which appeared to be one of the largest ever put on by the North.
Leader waves at crowd (Photo: AP)
Choe Ryong-hae, Kim's main military aide and the chief political operative of the North's 1.2-million-strong army, said the reclusive state sees peace as a top national priority and its military was aimed at safeguarding North Korea from invasion.
"Reality shows if peace is sought, there must be preparations for war," Choe said in a speech. "For us with our utmost task of building an economy and improving the lives of the people, a peaceful environment is greater than ever."
The remarks were moderate in tone, without the bellicose rhetoric that routinely fills the North's public commentary, and Choe did not mention the country's nuclear arms program or name the United States as its chief enemy.
Full force (Photo: AP)
Fighter jets and large military helicopters flew over the square packed with tens of thousands of soldiers, North Korean and foreign veterans of the Korean War and diplomats.
A military expert in Seoul said the parade appeared to feature weapons previously unseen in North, including new surface-to-air missiles that are used for anti-missile defense.
Bedrock of stabilityMeanwhile, in the US, in a proclamation declaring Saturday as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, Obama said the anniversary marks the end of the war and the beginning of a long and prosperous peace.
In the six decades since the end of hostilities, Obama said, South Korea has become a close US ally and one of the world's largest economies.
While anti-US rhetoric was absent from the official North Korean ceremony, those attending the event were more than ready to pledge to strike their arch enemy when called to arms.
"American bastards have kept saying they will make war and that they will take over our country," said 80-year-old veteran Jang Jong-hwan. "Though we are old, we have renewed our resolve not to loosen our grip on our guns and to serve leader Kim Jong-un for eternity and achieve unification."
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