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North Korea denies its leader is gravely ill

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North Korea denies its leader is gravely ill


North Korea is dismissing reports that its leader Kim Jong-il is seriously ill.

Speculation grew after the reclusive president failed to appear at a parade marking North Korea’s founding.

There are reports that Kim Jong-il has suffered a stroke and today one South Korean official said it was virtually certain that he had health problems.

Kim Jong-il has no clear heir and North Korea’s ruling hierarchy is split between hardliners and reformers.

North Korean diplomat Song Il-ho said the Western media had reported falsehoods about his country before.

“We see such reports not only as worthless, but rather as a conspiracy,” he said.
“I believe the aim is to influence public opinion with information that is not true.”

Concerns about Kim Jong-il’s health come as North Korea appears to be backtracking on a deal to scrap a programme to develop nuclear weapons in return for massive financial aid.

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