Kim's recent appearances, a reminder to the West that he is still in charge

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London, Nov.7 : North Korean leader Kim jong Il's recent spate of appearances is intended to remind the West, specifically America, that he is still in control of the nuclear-armed nation in spite of rumors that he had suffered a stroke in August.

"I think this is a message to the United States," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies.

The message appears to be that: 'I make decisions on relations with the United States, the nuclear standoff and everything. I'm in control and I'm ready to have direct talks with US President-elect Barack Obama'

Kim's health has been of particular interest following his absence from a celebration marking the nation's 60th birthday in September.

North Korea continues to deny that Kim is in ill health.

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