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North Korea

NKoreans honor late president on Lunar New Year

North Koreans paid respects to the late founder of their country on Thursday as they celebrated the Lunar New Year, state-run media reported.

"An endless stream of visitors flowed to the statue of President Kim Il Sung on Mansu Hill, carrying floral baskets and flowers," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

North Koreans also visited an exhibition of flowers named after Kim Il Sung and his son, current leader Kim Jong Il, KCNA said.

Kim Il Sung died in 1994 but is still revered as the country's "eternal president," and a strong personality cult is centered around his family.

Last year, Kim Jong Il made his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, a four-star general and gave him key political posts for an eventual second hereditary transfer of power.

The father and son and other top aides enjoyed a Lunar New Year's concert in Pyongyang, KCNA reported Wednesday.

North Koreans — some wearing colorful traditional clothes — also celebrated the Lunar New Year with traditional games and music, video from Associated Press Television News showed.

North and South Korea celebrate the Lunar New Year as a holiday.

The celebration came as North Korea's parliament proposed talks with South Korea on easing tensions.

The Supreme People's Assembly made the offer in a letter Wednesday to South Korea's National Assembly, KCNA said in a separate dispatch.

The National Assembly will consider how to respond to the North's offer, although it has not yet received the letter, Yonhap news agency quoted National Assembly spokesman Han Jong-tae as saying.

Repeated calls to Han's office seeking comment went unanswered.

The two Koreas are to hold a preliminary meeting next Tuesday to lay the groundwork for separate high-level defense talks.