10 Sep 2008

No sign of leader at North Korean parade

8:46 pm on 10 September 2008

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has failed to attend the country's 60th anniversary parade in the capital, Pyongyang, fuelling speculation about his state of health.

The event was overseen on Tuesday instead by North Korea's second most senior politician, Kim Yong-nam.

A United States intelligence official says Mr Kim may have had a stroke within the past few weeks.

Mr Kim, 66, is known to have diabetes and heart problems, but his health is a closely guarded secret.

Citing a diplomatic source in Beijing, South Korea's largest daily newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo, earlier said Mr Kim collapsed last month.

North Korean media last reported a public appearance by Mr Kim about a month ago.

He attended the parades for the 50th and 55th anniversary of the state, which was founded by his father Kim Il-sung.