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Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Sunday, 16 November 2008

Kim 'makes new public appearance'

Kim Jong-il, in an undated photo released by state media 6 Nov 2008
State media has issued a series of undated photos of Kim Jong-il

North Korea has reported that its reclusive leader Kim Jong-il has made a public appearance, amid continued speculation that he has been ill.

Mr Kim enjoyed a military art festival, the official Korean Central News Agency said, and "warmly waved back to the enthusiastically cheering performers".

However, the agency did not say where or when the performance took place.

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 the 66-year-old is 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 in September.

State media have recently released a string of still images of Mr Kim in public, in an apparent attempt to quell rumours of ill health, but all have been undated and experts have questioned the authenticity of some.

No-one has been named to succeed Mr Kim as leader, and his reported illness comes as international negotiations continue over North Korea's nuclear programme.

North Korea agreed last year to give up its nuclear programme in return for aid and diplomatic concessions but progress towards dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear reactor has been patchy.



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