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North Korea to Hold First Parliament Session Under New Leader

North Korea announced Saturday it will hold an annual parliamentary session next month around the time of a planned rocket launch that has sparked widespread condemnation.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency said the Supreme People's Assembly would convene on April 13.  Analysts say the parliament will likely promote the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, to chairman of the National Defense Commission, a post held by his father Kim Jong Il, who died in December.

The news agency also carried a statement by the North's Foreign Ministry spokesman, who said launching a satellite "is an exercise of an independent and legitimate right in accordance with... international laws."

The U.S., Russia, South Korea and Japan have condemned the planned launch, saying it violates a U.N. ban on all North Korean launches using ballistic missile technology.

Even Pyongyang's long-time ally, China, has expressed rare disapproval.  Beijing said it is concerned about the launch's potential to disrupt regional peace and security.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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