Russian, Cuban Presidents congratulate NKorea's Kim Jong-il on 69th birthday

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PYONGYANG: The Presidents of Russia and Cuba on Wednesday congratulated North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on his 69th birthday, state-run media reported.

Kim Jong-il turned 69 on Wednesday amid ongoing speculation about Kim's falling health and rumors about a soon-to-come change in power. Heir-apparent Kim Jong Eun's birthday, last month, did not see any public celebrations.

For Kim Jong-il, however, the streets of the North Korean capital of Pyongyang have been decorated to mark the day. But it is not known if there are celebrations in other parts of the country, which is facing severe food shortages and is in the midst of a severe foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the Presidents of Russia and Cuba had both sent congratulatory messages to mark Kim's birthday. "Respected Your Excellency Kim Jong Il, I congratulate you on your birthday," said Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in his message to Kim.

He added: "I believe that you would make contribution to strengthening and developing the traditional Russia-DPRK good-neighborly relations at the responsible post of chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission in the future, too. I wish you good health and success in your important and responsible work."

KCNA did not release the message sent by Cuban President Raul Castro but reported that he had wished Kim Jong-il "good health and success in his work of leading the fraternal Korean people."

(BNO NEWS )

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