North Korea vowed to pursue a stronger military as it marks major anniversary

North Korea vowed to pursue a stronger military as it marked a major anniversary, but made no mention of its long-running nuclear standoff with the outside world.

Leader Kim Jong Il was present as the communist state held a large-scale convention Sunday on the eve of the 60th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party of Korea, the North's official media reported Monday. "We should fully embody the party's Songun (army-first) politics ... under any circumstances and conditions and direct primary efforts to the strengthening" Leader Kim Jong Il , said Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the North's Supreme People's Assembly, the country rubber-stamp parliament, according to the North's Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea has the world's fifth-largest military with a total of more than 1.1 million troops, the backbone of leader Kim Jong Il's totalitarian rule. Besides conventional and chemical weapons, the communist state has claimed to have nuclear weapons as a "deterrent" against a U.S. attack.

At Sunday's ceremony, however, the North said nothing of its nuclear capabilities.

Pyongyang has engaged the United States and four other regional powers in talks aimed at getting Pyongyang to forgo its nuclear ambitions in exchange for economic and political rewards, reports the AP. I.L.

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