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N.Korea may hold another missile test

Reuters | September 3 2006

North Korea may be preparing for another missile test, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday, but a government official in Seoul discounted the report.

Yonhap also reported China is likely to invite North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to visit this week in an effort to restore their relationship strained after North Korea's missile tests in July.

China is the North's main benefactor. Beijing voted in support of a U.N. Security Council resolution chastising Pyongyang for the missile tests.

Beijing was expected to convey its formal invitation to Kim early this week when its new ambassador to Pyongyang takes office, Yonhap reported, citing unnamed diplomatic sources in Seoul and Beijing.

South Korean and the U.S. intelligence authorities have detected suspicious vehicle movement in and out of North Korea's major missile test site, Yonhap quoted a government source in Seoul as saying in a separate report on Sunday.

"Military intelligence officials have spotted movements by several large vehicles in the North's Gitdaeryeong area," Yonhap cited the unidentified source as saying.

"They don't rule out the possibility that it is part of preparations for additional missile tests."

The area was used in the test-firing of seven missiles by the North on July 5. These included the North's Taepodong-2 missile, which fizzled out soon after the launch but one day may have a range to hit parts of U.S. territory, experts said.

A government official in Seoul played down the Yonhap report.

"As far as we know, no new vehicles have moved in that area," the official, who is familiar with defense matters, told Reuters by telephone. The official, who asked not to be identified, said the activity was among vehicles that have been at the site since July.

"Given this, it may be too much of a stretch to say this indicates the possibility of new missile tests by the North."

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