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.