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Mass Rally in North Korea to Promote 2011 Policies

People pump their fists as about 100,000 North Koreans gather for an annual New Year rally to display loyalty to leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, 03 Jan 2011

North Korea's government has staged a mass rally in the capital, Pyongyang, to show support for policy goals outlined in its annual New Year message.

About 100,000 North Koreans participated in Monday's rally, holding flags and chanting slogans praising the country's Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il and his late father, former leader Kim Il Sung.

Participants also pledged to implement the North Korean government's New Year goals, published Saturday by state media. The goals include developing the impoverished economy by reviving light industries and improving relations with South Korea through dialogue.

North Korea has vowed to become a "great, powerful and prosperous" country by 2012 to mark the centennial birthday of Kim Il Sung, whom it reveres as an "eternal president." Sixty-eight-year-old current leader Kim Jong Il has been making preparations for another hereditary power transfer to his son Kim Jong Un.

North Korea's call for dialogue with the South follows one of the most turbulent years in relations between the neighbors since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Several incidents fueled the tension, including the March sinking of a South Korean warship that Seoul blamed on Pyongyang, and a deadly North Korean artillery strike on a South Korean border island in November.