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North Korea

Kim Jong-Il promotes son as party conference opens

Reuters

North Korea's ruling party opened its biggest meeting for 30 years on Tuesday, amid rumours that Kim Jong-Il is preparing to hand over power to his youngest son. The Workers' Party conference has renominated the 68-year-old as its leader, shortly after his youngest son, Kim Jong-Un, was given a significant promotion.

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Kim Jong-Un, thought to be in his mid-20s, has been appointed a four-star general, according to state media.

It's the first time his name has appeared in official media reports, and analysts say the rapid promotion could be a first step towards a power transfer.

Kim Jong-Il's sister, Kim Kyong-Hui, and aide, Choe Ryong-Hae, were also named as generals.

Meanwhile the Workers' Party on Tuesday reelected Kim Jong-Il as its general secretary, in what the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) called "an expression of absolute support and trust of all the party members, the servicepersons and the people".

The announcement was the first official confirmation that the conference had opened.

State media has shown pictures of delegates arriving in Pyongyang, which is decorated with flags and banners.

KCNA reports that delegates visited the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in the capital on Monday to pay tribute to North Korea's founder Kim Il-Sung, the father of Kim Jong-Il.

At the last major party meeting in 1980, Kim Jong-Il was confirmed as eventual successor to Kim Il-Sung.

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