North Korea stages armistice anniversary parade

The BBC's Lucy Williamson describes a show of military might in N Korea

North Korea has staged a huge parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.

State TV showed soldiers and military hardware parading through Pyongyang in a carefully choreographed display.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, although the North and South remain technically at war.

US President Barack Obama has marked the anniversary at a commemorative ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington DC.

High tension

In Pyongyang, troops and spectators shouted their allegiance to North Korea's young ruler, Kim Jong-un.

Correspondents say the lavish parade of weapons and goose-stepping soldiers was reminiscent of marches held by the Soviet Union and China at the height of the Cold War.

US President Barack Obama lays a wreath alongside US and Korean officials at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, 27 July President Obama (L) lays a wreath at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington

The TV pictures showed Kim Jong-un walking up to the podium on a red carpet with a military band playing in the background. He oversaw the parade flanked by military and ruling party leaders.

Large banners hung from gas-filled balloons and the main square in Pyongyang was filled with North Korean flags.

Over the past week North Korea has staged mass rallies and fireworks displays to commemorate the anniversary.

President Obama has declared Saturday National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, and says the anniversary marks both the end of conflict and the start of a long peace.

Mr Obama said South Korea was now a close US ally and the pair formed a partnership that was a "bedrock of stability" in the Pacific.

He told the ceremony in Washington that the veterans of the Korean War had not returned to parades as after World War II or to the protests that followed the Vietnam War.

"Among many Americans, there seemed a desire to forget, to move on. You, the veterans of the Korean War, deserve better," Mr Obama said.

In South Korea, the anniversary was marked with a speech by President Park Geun-hye.

She vowed not to tolerate provocations from North Korea but also said Seoul would work on building trust with the North.

"I urge North Korea to give up the development of nuclear weapons if the country is to start on a path toward true change and progress," she said.

North and South Korea are currently trying to restore ties following a period of high tension.

Earlier this month, they ended a third round of talks on the re-opening of a jointly-run industrial zone without reaching a deal.

Work at Kaesong has been suspended since mid-April when North Korea withdrew its workers.

The move came amid tense relations between the two Koreas after Pyongyang's nuclear test in February.

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