North Korea's Kim Yong-nam to attend Iran summit

North Korea's President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly Kim Yong-nam in Hanoi 6 August, 2012
Image caption Kim Yong-nam is responsible for North Korea's foreign relations

North Korea's head of parliament, Kim Yong-nam will visit Iran and briefly attend the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, North Korea's media report.

It follows rumours on Wednesday that the country's leader Kim Jong-un would be making the trip on Sunday.

Kim Yong-nam is on an ''official goodwill visit'' at the invitation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the KCNA news agency said.

Pyongyang and Tehran are known to have close relations.

The NAM summit is one of a handful of international meetings North Korea has been participating in.

Earlier reports had quoted a spokesman for the NAM as saying that North Korea leader Kim Jong-un would make his first state visit since taking power to Tehran at the weekend.

However the spokesman, Mohammad Reza Forqani, later denied the reports, telling Iran's official news agency, Irna: "I have not said such things and the reports [on his visit] are blatant lies.''

International attention has been fixed on Kim Jong-un since his father, Kim Jong-il, died in December, with speculation surrounding how the young Mr Kim will lead the country.

Kim Yong-nam, the president of the presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly and part of Pyongyang's political elite, has been described as a ceremonial head of state. He is also responsible for foreign relations, and has been on several foreign trips, including to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

In May last year, a leaked UN report obtained by Reuters news agency suggested that North Korea and Iran may have been exchanging ballistic missile technology in violation of sanctions.