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North Korean vice president dies

TOKYO -- North Korean Vice President Kim Il died Friday after a long illness, the official North Korean Central News Agency reported Saturday. He was 74.

The broadcast said Kim, who was a Politburo member of North Korea's ruling Workers (Communist) Party, died Friday night.

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It described Kim as the 'closest and finest revolutionary comrade-in-arms' of President Kim Il Sung and said his death was 'a painful, big loss to our party and people.'

Kim, son of a poor peasant family, held such government posts as vice premier, premier and first vice president before he was named vice president in 1976.

North Korea has two vice presidents. The other one is Pak Sung Chul.

The broadcast said a 69-member funeral committee has been formed to hold a state funeral for Kim. The date of the funeral was not announced.

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