North Korea has reportedly removed its top three military chiefs in what's being seen as an attempt by the leadership to continue the thawing of relations with the outside world ahead of this month's planned summit with the U.S. in Singapore.
Professor Kim Yong-hyun of Seoul's Dongguk University told the Washington Post that North Korea appears to be "pursuing a new policy to become a developing country without nuclear weapons, rather than a poor country with nuclear weapons".
"The world welcomes the remarkable events in the Korean peninsula brought about recently by the outstanding political calibre and wise leadership of HE (His Excellency) Kim Jong-un", Mr Assad said, according to KCNA.
Ri Myong-su, 84, chief of the general staff of the Korean People's Army, has been replaced by Ri Yong-gil, his deputy.
After an worldwide scramble to salvage the briefly canceled summit between the USA and North Korea, it appears President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are on track to meet in Singapore next week for their historic tête-à-tête.
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He became the highest level figure from North Korea to hold talks at the White House since a senior envoy visited former US President Bill Clinton in 2000.
Mattis has tended to stay away from commenting publicly on the upcoming summit, which Trump has confirmed will take place in Singapore on June 12, and instead deferred to the State Department.
Sanders added that Trump was getting daily national security briefings on North Korea in the run-up to the meeting. Under the current cost-sharing agreement signed in 2014, South Korea provides $830 million per year for the upkeep of U.S. forces.
It is also not certain if any or all of the new leaders will accompany Kim Jong-un to Singapore for his meeting with Trump.
"Hosting Assad, one of the worst butchers on the planet, as your first foreign leader visit is not a good PR move", she said.
USA officials believe there was some dissension in the military about Kim's approaches to South Korea and the United States. He only made his first overseas trip as leader this year, travelling to China to meet President Xi Jinping, an ally of the reclusive regime.