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N. Korea in high gear to mark 60th anniversary of Korean War truce

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

North Korea on Thursday shifted into high gear to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the truce that ended the Korean War, with country leader Kim Jong Un making an appearance at one event and receiving cheers from the public.

More than 100 foreign media personnel from countries including the United States, Russia and Iran have been allowed into the country ahead of Saturday's anniversary, apparently reflecting its intention to use them for propaganda purposes.

On Thursday morning, a ceremony marking the completion of a cemetery for soldiers who died during the 1950-1953 war was held in Pyongyang with the participation of the North Korean leader, military veterans, bereaved families and others.

Kim Jong Un received cheers and applause from the attendees as he engaged in a tape-cutting event, but he did not deliver a speech.

Kim Kyong Hui, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's aunt and a senior member of the Worker's Party of Korea, was among top officials at the ceremony.

There had been no official news about her for more than two months and some North Korean watchers had speculated she was seriously ill.

North Korea, along with China, fought against U.S.-led United Nations and South Korean forces in the Korean War, which cost millions of lives.

The armistice signed on July 27, 1953, ended open hostilities, but North and South Korea remain technically at war in the absence of a formal peace treaty.

For North Korea, July 27 is a day that marks a "victory" in the anti-U.S. confrontation.

The new cemetery is likely to serve as a facility to heighten patriotism among the public.

Military veterans that attended the day's ceremony included those from China, as well as from the United States.

Speaking to reporters, Thomas Hudner, an 88-year-old retired U.S. Navy captain, recalled it was a "brutal war for both of us" and added the event was a "very emotional occasion."

"As an American veteran, I am delighted to see that our former foe and we share some of the same feelings about this. It was great to be here," he said.

Hudner is trying to find the remains of his wingman Ensign Jesse Brown who was shot down during the war.

Hudner, then 26, crash-landed his aircraft to try to save Brown, then 24, but his leg was stuck and he died.

The search mission for Brown is supported by Kim Jong Un, a person escorting Hudner said.

"I understand (Kim) is very supportive of the veterans," Hudner told reporters, adding he hopes to contribute to improving the relationship between the United States and North Korea through his activities.

As North Korea is preparing for the war anniversary, the country's official news agency reported Thursday that Kim Jong Un met with a Syrian delegation the previous day.

Apart from those from China, it is believed to be the first time the North Korean leader has held talks with a foreign delegation since he succeeded his father Kim Jong Il in December 2011.

The Syrian delegation was led by Abdullah al-Ahmar, deputy general secretary of the Baath Arab Socialist Party, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

==Kyodo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/130725/n-korea-high-gear-mark-60th-anniversary-korean-war-tru