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N. Korean leader said to be recovering

North Korea's Kim Jong Il is on the road to recovery from a stroke and still in control of his isolated country's communist regime, South Korea suggested Wednesday, disputing reports that the leader is gravely ill.

President Lee Myung-bak convened a meeting of top security ministers, who were briefed on intelligence that indicates Kim was recovering, spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said.

The North Korean leader was currently “not seen to be in a serious condition,” Lee said after the meeting late Wednesday.

Earlier, South Korea's spy agency told a closed-door meeting of lawmakers it had intelligence showing the 66-year-old Kim's condition had much improved, an agency official.

South Korea's optimistic view of Kim's health came as North Korea moved to dispel fears about his health after he failed to appear for a key national ceremony Tuesday.

“There are no problems,” Kim Yong Nam, Pyongyang's No. 2 leader and ceremonial head of state, told Japan's Kyodo News agency.

Song Il Ho, a senior North Korean diplomat, called reports of Kim's illness “worthless” and a “conspiracy plot,” adding that Western media “have reported falsehoods before,” according to Kyodo's dispatch from Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing lawmakers briefed by the spy agency, reported that Kim suffered a cerebral hemorrhage but remains conscious and “is able to control the situation.”

The report did not say when he suffered the stroke. South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported Tuesday that Kim collapsed Aug. 22.

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