North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is believed to be recovering from recent surgery, South Korea's spy agency said Wednesday.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service reported to a parliamentary committee that it obtained intelligence reports showing Kim Jong Il recently had surgery for an unspecified circulatory problem.
According to the official, his condition had much improved
"He is not gravely ill," one ruling party lawmaker was quoted as saying by South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
Kim is in a "recoverable and manageable condition," and that the North is not in a "power vacuum," Yonhap reported.
Meanwhile, North Korean senior officials are saying that there are no problems with the leader and that reports of Kim's illness are nothing more than a conspiracy.
Speculation over Kim's condition intensified Tuesday after he did not appear at a parade commemorating North Korea's founding 60 years ago.
North Korea has been butting heads with the United States over its nuclear ambitions since late 2002.
In 2006 the country did its first nuclear test. However, last year North Korea agreed to disable its nuclear facilities in exchange for economic aid and political concessions.
But negotiations between the two countries have once again stalled, with the two sides in disagreement regarding how to verify North Korea's accounting of its nuclear programs.
Source: The Associated Press, Reuters