September 12, 2008

Kim Recovers After Brain Surgery for Stroke ; NORTH KOREA INTERNATIONAL

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il had brain surgery after a stroke last month and could have partial paralysis on one side, it was reported yesterday. Foreign doctors, possibly from China and France, performed the operation after Mr Kim, 66, collapsed four weeks ago, South Korean newspapers claimed.

Mr Kim's condition has improved and he is not suffering from slurred speech, a disability often associated with a stroke, the reports said. If Mr Kim were incapacitated, it could have serious implications for international negotiations on North Korea's nuclear disarmament. The talks recently hit a snag because of a dispute between North Korea and the US over how to verify the North's nuclear programmes, and a delay by Washington in its promised removal of North Korea from a list of nations that sponsor terrorism. Lee Cheol-woo, a South Korean MP, said on Wednesday that Mr Kim is "recovering fast," has "no problem speaking and communicating," and is "able to stand if assisted." The MP, a leader of the parliamentary intelligence committee briefed by the country's spy agency on Wednesday, did not give further details.

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