'Kim Jong-il still in control of North Korea'

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London, Oct 23 : North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il is still in control of the country despite rumours about his health. In recent times Kim Jong-il has missed significant public events including the 60th anniversary of the founding of North Korea.

"There has been a lot of speculation with no clear indication about Kim Jong-il's whereabouts, but I do not believe there are any changes in North Korea because of Kim's health," said South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in a newspaper interview following reports that Kim had suffered a stroke and had brain surgery in August.

"I think North Korea is still being run as usual with Chairman Kim Jong-il at the center," he added.

Speculation about Kim's health has persisted since he missed two important national ceremonies, including the 60th anniversary of the founding of North Korea last month, the Sky News reported.

Officials deny he is ill and state media recently released pictures of him inspecting a women's military unit.

But experts in South Korea say the images were probably taken several months ago, before he is thought to have fallen ill.

Kim's health and his whereabouts are among the most closely guarded secrets in North Korea.He has not publicly nominated a successor, leading to fears that the state could fall apart after his death.

But Lee does not believe North Korean society will collapse that easily, though the international community "will be prepared" for various situations.

He added that North Korea is "technologically capable of producing nuclear weapons" and called on it to live up to a disarmament-for-aid deal.

ANI

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