North Korea did not showcase intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States during a military parade staged Sunday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its founding, media reports showed.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un presided over the event at Kim Il-sung Square in central Pyongyang but did not give an address, according to the reports.
The North appeared to tone down the parade, which was previously used to show its latest military might, amid stalled nuclear talks with the United States.
"The largest missiles shown in the parade were short-range battlefield devices," the AFP reported from Pyongyang.
During a military parade staged in February to celebrate the launch of its military, North Korea displayed ICBM-level missiles, including the Hwasong-15.
Sunday's event put less emphasis on tanks, missiles and soldiers than on civilian groups, such as nurses and construction workers, the Associated Press said.
Kim was flanked by other senior officials, including Kim Yong-nam, the North's nominal head of state, who delivered an opening speech, which focused on economic development, it added.
The North's media stayed mum on the event, which is the first of its kind since Kim held a historic summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in June.
The North's latest military parade has been closely watched amid concerns over stalemated talks with the U.S. over how to denuclearize the communist state.
During the Singapore summit in June, Kim promised to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S. They also agreed to build "new" bilateral relations that will contribute to lasting peace and prosperity.
Subsequent talks, however, have been in limbo as the two appear to be at odds over how fast and in what process denuclearization should be carried out.
Uncertainty has mounted further, especially after Trump abruptly canceled a planned trip by his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to North Korea last month, citing a lack of progress in denuclearization talks.
The North wants denuclearization to be carried out in a phased and simultaneous manner, and seeks an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War. The U.S. holds firm that there should be substantive denuclearization steps first.
Against this backdrop, the leaders of the two Koreas are to meet in Pyongyang from Sept. 18-20 for their third summit this year, raising hopes that it could help break the logjam and move the process forward.
In a meeting with a South Korean presidential delegation that visited Pyongyang to arrange the summit, Kim renewed his commitment to denuclearization and expressed hope that the process will be completed in Trump's first term that will end early in 2021.
South Korea's military remained cautious in confirming foreign media's reports, but a military official said that no missiles that could provoke the U.S. have been detected so far.
"We are still conducting an analysis to determine if there were other types of missiles," he added.
Experts see the North's seemingly toned-down and low-profile approach in holding Sunday's military parade as intended not to provoke the U.S. amid expectations that nuclear talks could be back on track.
"It can be interpreted as a veiled move for the North to express an active intent for denuclearization toward President Trump," Kim Yong-hyun, a professor at Seoul-based Dongguk University, said, referring to the presumably ICBM-absent parade.
Cho Sung-ryeol, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Strategy, agreed, saying that the parade appears to be scaled down in consideration of the North's planned summit with South Korea and another possible summit with the U.S.
Meanwhile, the North's founding anniversary has been drawing attention in that it could serve as a major diplomatic platform for the reclusive country.
Li Zhanshu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China, joined the anniversary event in his capacity as a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Li, No. 3 in China's power hierarchy, earlier met with the North's nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam and discussed bilateral relations. Xi also sent a congratulatory message to Kim on the anniversary.
He was later seen next to leader Kim raising his hand together with Kim's while looking on the parade from a viewing stand.
Other foreign guests include Valentina Matvienko, chairwoman of the Russian Federation Council, who made a courtesy call the North's nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam. Russian President Vladimir Putin also sent a congratulatory message to Kim, according to the North's state media. (Yonhap News)