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NKorea's Kim visits launch site province

world Updated: Feb 25, 2009 12:28 IST

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has visited several venues in a northeastern province where preparations for a controversial rocket launch are under way, state media reported.

Kim visited the birthplace in Hoeryong town of his mother Kim Jong-Suk, who died in 1949 when he was seven, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Wednesday.

The town is in North Hamkyong province, where the coastal missile launch site at Musudan-ri is located. Kim's visit to her birthplace and other venues was the latest in a series in the province to be reported in recent days.

The leader also visited a food processing and cigarette factory, the local branch of the central bank and a middle school, KCNA said in its report.

North Korea announced Tuesday it was preparing to launch an "experimental communications satellite" from its Musudan-ri site.

US and South Korean officials say any such exercise -- whether to launch a satellite or to test a missile -- would violate UN resolutions adopted after the communist state's last missile tests in 2006.

Intelligence reports say the North is readying its longest-range missile, the Taepodong-2, which could theoretically reach Alaska. The North did not say when the launch would take place.

Seoul's Unification Ministry could not say whether Kim's extensive trip was related to the launch or just part of his regular public activities.