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NKorea's Kim absent from anniversary parade: reports

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il did not appear at a massive parade marking the communist country's 60th anniversary Tuesday, news agencies reported, fuelling speculation he may have fallen ill.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, which monitored North Korean television, said Kim was absent from the parade of reserve military forces.

Japan's Kyodo news Kyodo News (共同通信社 Kyōdō Tsūshinsha) is a nonprofit cooperative news agency based in Minato-ku, Tokyo. It was established in 1945 and it distributes news to almost all newspapers, and radio and television networks in Japan.  agency, reporting from Pyongyang, also said Kim did not appear, unlike in 1998 and 2003. The 66-year-old is known to suffer from diabetes and heart problems, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Seoul officials.

Seoul's Chosun Ilbo newspaper said earlier the South Korean embassy in Beijing had received an intelligence report that Kim collapsed on August 22.

The paper, quoting an embassy source, said the intelligence came from Chinese sources and the mission was trying to verify it.

Yonhap said the parade of Worker and Peasant Red Guards Red Guards, in Chinese history, politically active students of the Cultural Revolution (1966–69), who organized units to carry out Mao Zedong's aim of rerevolutionizing Chinese society.  was inspected by the North's titular tit·u·lar  
1. Relating to, having the nature of, or constituting a title.

a. Existing in name only; nominal: the titular head of the family.

 number two Kim Yong-Nam
This is a Korean name; the family name is Kim.
Not to be confused with Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of Kim Jong-il

Kim Yong-nam (born February 4, 1928) is a top North Korean official.
, flanked by Jo Myong-Rok, from the stage where the top leader would customarily stand.

Jo is vice chairman of the National Defence Commission, the North's highest military body which is chaired by Kim Jong-Il.

An official at South Korea's unification ministry, which handles cross-border relations, told AFP (1) (AppleTalk Filing Protocol) The file sharing protocol used in an AppleTalk network. In order for non-Apple networks to access data in an AppleShare server, their protocols must translate into the AFP language. See file sharing protocol.  it would be unusual if Kim had failed to appear for such an important event.

Kyodo said the parade of reserves and Pyongyang residents filled Kim Il-Sung Square, which can hold about 100,000 people.

It said military equipment such as anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery were on display, but not tanks and missiles. The regular army, navy and air force did not take part.

Sungkyunkwan University political science professor Kim Il-Young agreed Kim's absence was unusual but said it was premature to attribute it to health problems.

"It is possible that he just stayed away for other reasons," Kim told AFP.

"He has nothing to show his people, with a deadlock in nuclear disarmament talks and in normalisation 1. (data processing) normalisation - A transformation applied uniformly to each element in a set of data so that the set has some specific statistical property. For example, monthly measurements of the rainfall in London might be normalised by dividing each one by the total  talks with Japan on top of food shortages.

"Or he is thinking about something unusual like a nuclear test to break the current deadlock."

Yonhap said North Korean TV aired footage of the event at 9:00 pm (1200 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) See UTC.

GMT - Universal Time 1

A unification ministry official told AFP the parade was staged during the day. The official news agency had carried no report on it by late evening.

State media in North Korea, virtually the last outpost of Cold War-era communism, heaped praise on Kim despite acute food shortages, a foundering economy and a deadlocked aid-for-disarmament nuclear deal.

"There is no limit to the ideological and mental power of the military and the people united firmly under their leader," said Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling party.

"We should continue to make utmost efforts to strengthen the military power of our republic," the editorial said, adding that it became a peerless military power with "a strong war deterrent" due to Kim's leadership.

The "war deterrent" is a reference to the nuclear programme which the North promised to shut down after an atomic weapons test in 2006.

But it has halted work to disable its plutonium-producing plants, and says it will start repairing them, following a deadlock in a six-nation disarmament deal.

The North's regular military numbers some 1.1 million but the country relies on foreign aid to feed millions.

Its economy shrank 2.3 percent in 2007 from a year earlier, its second straight year of contraction as devastating dev·as·tate  
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.

2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark.
 floods hit harvests, the South Korean central bank said in June.

However, the austere capital Pyongyang has been refurbished for the anniversary and decorated with flowers and flags. Slogans extol ex·tol also ex·toll  
tr.v. ex·tolled also ex·tolled, ex·tol·ling also ex·toll·ing, ex·tols also ex·tolls
To praise highly; exalt. See Synonyms at praise.
 the virtues of Kim and of his father and founding president Kim Il-Sung, who died in 1994.

"Victory and glory for 60 years," read some.

Nuclear disarmament work has halted because of a dispute between the North and its negotiating partners about ways to verify the nuclear inventory it handed over in June.

Washington has refused to remove the North from a terrorism blacklist (1) A list of e-mail addresses of known spammers. See spam, spam filter, Blacklist of Internet Advertisers, greylisting and blackholing. Contrast with white list.

(2) A list of Web sites that are considered off limits or dangerous.
 until agreement on verification is reached.
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Publication:AFP Asian Edition
Date:Sep 9, 2008
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