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Page last updated at 06:22 GMT, Saturday, 11 October 2008 07:22 UK

New Kim Jong-il images released

Undated screen-grab of Kim Jong-Il with female troops
North Korean media reported Kim visited an all-female military unit

North Korea has released several pictures of its reclusive leader Kim Jong-il apparently looking well, despite reports he has been ill.

The undated series of images shows the 66-year-old clad in his trademark khaki jumpsuit and sporting sunglasses.

The photos, which were released by state media, were apparently taken during a visit to a military unit.

Mr Kim, reportedly suffering from heart disease and diabetes, has not been seen at key events in recent months.

North Korean officials have consistently denied he was ill.

But South Korean and US officials said in August he had suffered a stroke, and speculation about his health increased when he failed to appear at a parade celebrating North Korea's 60th anniversary last month.

But state media reported last week that Mr Kim had attended a student football match in Pyongyang on 4 October.

Blacklist removal?

No-one has been named to succeed Mr Kim as leader, and his reported illness has come at a difficult time in international negotiations over North Korea's nuclear programme.

rab of Kim Jong-Il
State media aired around 10 photos of the reclusive leader on Saturday

North Korea agreed last year to give up its nuclear programme in return for aid and diplomatic concessions.

But Pyongyang announced it would reactivate its Yongbyon nuclear complex last month, saying the US had not fulfilled its part of an international disarmament deal.

On Thursday, the UN's nuclear watchdog - the International Atomic Energy Agency - said North Korea had banned its inspectors from entering the site to monitor the reprocessing plant.

But correspondents suggest the inspections may be allowed to resume if and when North Korea is removed from a US terrorism blacklist - a move reportedly under consideration in Washington.

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