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N.Korea finishes preparing for key party meeting: official

International Desk |
Update: 2010-09-05 14:17:32
N.Korea finishes preparing for key party meeting: official

SEOUL: North Korea has finished preparing for a key meeting of its ruling communist party, a South Korean official said Monday, but there was still no indication when it would get under way.

 The conference, the first of its type since 1966, is widely expected to confirm the youngest son of leader Kim Jong-Il as his eventual successor.

 State media have carried a series of reports about elections to choose local delegates for this month`s meeting, without giving firm dates for it.

 "It looks like the city and provincial-level delegates` elections have been finished," said Chun Hae-Sung, spokesman for the South`s unification ministry, which handles cross-border relations.

 "There have been numerous reports about recent flood damage in the country, but it looks like all the preparatory steps for the meeting have been taken regardless."

 The event, like all political processes in the hardline state, will be shrouded in secrecy. Official media have said only that this month`s conference will elect the party`s "highest leading body".

 Analysts expect delegates to anoint Kim`s son Jong-Un as eventual heir to his ailing 68-year-old father -- even though Jong-Un may not move into the limelight by taking a high-profile party post.

 The Swiss-educated son is believed aged around 27, but little is known about him outside the reclusive country. No adult photograph of him has even been seen overseas.

 Leader Kim suffered a stroke in August 2008 and has since then reportedly been speeding up succession plans. But the timing of the son`s rise is seen as linked to the state of his father`s health.

 The senior Kim`s recent visit to northeast China late last month was viewed partly as a preparation for change.

 During a meeting with President Hu Jintao, Kim stressed the need to prepare for the "rising generation". He visited a series of sites linked to his late father, a guerrilla fighter against Japan`s 20th-century colonisation of Korea and northeast China.

 Analysts saw this as a bid to confer legitimacy on another father-to-son power transfer.

 BDST: 1002 HRS, September 06, 2010

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