Foreign journalists in North Korea have been told by the regime to prepare for a "big and important event". There are no indications as to what the event is about nor whether it is in any way linked to the tensions in the region stemming from Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.

Around 200 foreign journalists are in Pyongyang to cover the country's biggest national day called the Day of the Sun, as it marks the 105th birth anniversary of its founding president Kim II Sung on 15 April.

Reuters said that announcements in the past have been linked to relatively low-key events, referring to how foreign journalists in 2016 were forced to go through hours of investigation by North Korean officials for a pop concert to mark the finale of the ruling Workers' Party congress.

The news agency, however, noted that tensions in the region are at a historic high. A US Navy strike group is heading towards the western Pacific, while North Korea is warning America that it is ready for war.

Pyongyang said the US naval deployment shows it was right in developing its nuclear weapons programme for self-defence. There are fears North Korea is ready to conduct another nuclear test.

Foreign journalists in North Korea on 12 April were told that their pre-arranged schedule had been cancelled and were informed to meet instead early the following day for a "big and important event."

Visits by foreign journalists to North Korea are rare and heavily coordinated, with security checks at events attended by its Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un especially rigorous, Reuters reports.

The rogue state often uses visits by foreign journalists to show off new construction projects. In recent weeks, finishing touches were being made to the skyscraper-lined Ryomyong street in central Pyongyang, said the news agency.

North Korea daily life
A man walks along a street decorated with flags as North Korea prepares to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung Damir Sagolj/Reuters