Pyongyang denies rumours of Kim Jong-Il's poor health

North Korea on Wednesday denied media reports that its leader had collapsed. Kim had failed to appear at celebrations for the communist country's 60th anniversary. A US official said he may have suffered a stroke.


SEOUL, Sept 10 (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has collapsed and is ill, a South Korean government official was quoted as saying on Wednesday, but analysts said it was not clear how serious his condition might be.

But a senior North Korean diplomat on Wednesday denied the report, calling it a "conspiracy plot", Kyodo news agency reported.

On Tuesday, a U.S. intelligence official said the reclusive leader may have suffered a stroke.

Kim, 66, and leader of the world's first communist dynasty, was conspicuously absent from a parade on Tuesday to mark the 60th anniversary of the communist state.

The North Korean leader is almost certainly ill, Yonhap news agency cited the official as saying. The official said Kim had collapsed, but did not say when or how serious was his condition.

South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak summoned his aides to discuss the latest events in the North, Yonhap news agency quoted a presidential Blue House official as saying.

Kim's surprise absence from the anniversary parade came just as the impoverished communist state appeared to be backing away from a deal with major powers on scrapping in its nuclear programme in exchange for aid and an end to its international ostracism.

Kim is suspected of having chronic medical problems but analysts said the status of his health is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the paranoid state, known perhaps only to his small inner circle.

"We have so little idea of what is going on there that everything at this point is just wild guesses and speculation," said Brad Glosserman, a specialist in Asian affairs at the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Hawaii.

Analysts have cautioned not to read too much into the public appearances of Kim, who can drop out of sight for months and then show up in field guidance tours to military bases, farms and factories for visits described by the North's propaganda machine as showing his tireless devotion to the communist state.

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