North Korea held a meeting of young leaders Saturday, urging them to play a bigger role in building a "great, prosperous and powerful country" by next year, the country's media said.
The North's communist regime has set 2012, the centennial of the birth of its late founder and president, Kim Il-sung, as the deadline for achieving the goal.
Although such gatherings with young people are common in North Korea, it was the first time that the North has put "songun," or the army-first policy that has been leader Kim Jong-il's ruling mantra, in naming such a meeting, observers here said.
The "Songun Meeting of Youth for General Mobilization" was held with the North's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam and other top party officials attending, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a report.
In a congratulatory message, Kim Yong-nam praised young North Koreans, saying that their services have provided "a firm guarantee for the building of a thriving nation with matchless armed forces,"
the KCNA report said.
The youth meeting comes as North Korea is moving to anoint the leader's youngest son, Jong-un, as its new leader. Kim Jong-il took over power when his father died in 1994.
Jong-un, believed to be in his late 20's, was made a four-star general and given high-level posts at the ruling Workers Party last September in an apparent step toward making him the country's next leader.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain high in the past year due to the North's two deadly provocations -- the March sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the November shelling of the South's border island of Yeonpyeong.
Analysts and government officials in Seoul believe that the North's emboldened military provocations were partly linked to its efforts to give military credentials to its next leader-in-waiting.