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TOKYO: North Korea has moved forward a planned military parade to coincide with its rocket launch, in an apparent bid to bolster attendance by foreign officials, a Japanese report said Wednesday.

The huge parade showcasing Pyongyang's military hardware was originally scheduled for April 25, but could now be held 10 days earlier, Kyodo News reported from Seoul.

An April 15 parade would fall inside the launch window announced by North Korea for what it claims is a satellite, but what the West says is a missile test.

The parade, organised by the Korean People's Army, North Korea's 1.1 million-strong military, is formally being held to mark the 80th anniversary of its founding.

"By bringing as many foreign representatives as possible to Pyongyang around the satellite launch in mid-April, North Korea apparently wants to show it has international backing for its action," Kyodo quoted a source as saying.

European and other international officials are considering boycotting the parade if it is moved to coincide with the launch, to avoid giving it an air of legitimacy, Kyodo said, without naming its sources.

Pyongyang is set to play host to scores of diplomatic and media delegations, invited to a series of celebrations on an "unprecedented" scale to commemorate the reclusive state's late leaders and rally behind its untested new ruler.

April 15 will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of its first leader Kim Il-Sung, founder of the dynasty which has ruled since 1948.

Pyongyang has announced it will launch a satellite between April 12 and 16, insisting the rocket is for entirely peaceful purposes.

The United States, which has already suspended plans to provide food aid to North Korea, and numerous other nations have strongly criticised the launch as a disguised missile test in violation of UN resolutions.

The ruling communist party will hold a special conference on April 11 in an apparent move to complete the power transfer to Kim Jong-Un, who took office under a second dynastic succession when his father Kim Jong-Il died last December.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012


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