North Korea rubberstamp assembly to hold rare second session: KCNA

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has called a rare second session of parliament five months after holding the first meeting under its new leader, Kim Jong-un, after the impoverished state had been sending signals in recent weeks of plans to repair its broken economy.

Delegates to the rubberstamp assembly meet annually to adopt formally the state budget, and to approve important appointments and legal amendments, but is also used to make formal announcements of decisions by the state leadership.

“The Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly Monday made public a decision on convening a session of the Supreme People’s Assembly,” the official KCNA news agency said in a brief statement on Wednesday.

“According to the decision, the 6th Session of the 12th SPA is to be held in Pyongyang on September 25,” it said, referring to the reclusive North’s official name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The statement did not say what was on the session’s agenda.

The parliament last met in April, on the day the North unsuccessfully tried to launch a rocket, seen as a long-range missile test in disguise, and was largely overshadowed by international warnings over the launch.

North Korea, under the untested leadership of young ruler Kim, has been signaling plans to introduce changes to the way it runs its economy and agriculture, which have not been able to support its 24 million population.

Kim, who took over in December, has projected a sharply different image from his reclusive late father, but there have been no firm signs of any fundamental switch in policy.

North Korea’s broken economy has been squeezed harder after U.N. sanctions, adopted in 2006 and 2009 in retaliation for the North’s defiant missile and nuclear tests, cut off much of the arms trade that had been a rare source of hard currency.

Drought and widespread flooding this year are believed to have hit the North’s farm production hard, possibly cutting grain output by as much as 13 percent, a South Korean official said this week in a grim forecast from Seoul.

That follows a warning by a Danish aid group that the North could be facing a return to famine that cost the lives of an estimated 1 million people in the 1990s.

North Korea announced new investment laws this year for its special economic zones on the border with China, where it is seeking investment from Chinese companies.

However experts said the new regulations fall short of offering secure and attractive incentives for investment from China, its sole major ally to reform its economy.

Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Paul Tait