‘Massive’ deployment by North

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‘Massive’ deployment by North

South Korea has detected a "massive" deployment of North Korean troops and arms near the capital Pyongyang, Seoul's defense ministry said yesterday.

The large number of soldiers, armored vehicles and artillery has been stationed near the Communist state's capital since July 12, the ministry said in a report to the National Assembly.

The deployment appears to be related to political events such as a meeting of key Communist Party delegates next month and the party's 65th anniversary on Oct. 10, a ministry spokesman told AFP.

"The massive deployment of troops could be designed to show their military power at home and abroad, or for security," he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has not publicly appointed an eventual successor, but his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, is widely believed to be being groomed to take over from his ailing 68-year-old father.

Some analysts say Kim Jong-il will probably designate the son as his political heir at the September meeting, the third such gathering since the state was founded in 1948.

It is seen as the most important party event since 1980, when a convention of all party members made public Kim Jong-il's status as the eventual successor to his father, and founding president, Kim Il Sung.

Kim Jong-il took over from his father in 1994 in the Communist world's only dynastic succession.

South Korea's spy chief said in June that the leader's poor health was driving him to speed up preparations for a hand-over and that Kim Jong-un was taking a greater role in policy making and often accompanied his father on inspection tours.

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