Posted January. 13, 2009 07:59,
An Italian businessman and economist who reportedly met North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in September last year said Kim is fine, the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun said yesterday.
Kim is said to have received treatment for a stroke in mid-August.
Giancarlo Elia Valori, 68, told the newspaper in an interview, "Kim looked younger than before and I had the impression that he maintains a firm grip on power."
The Italian is said to have met the North Korean leader after attending the 60th anniversary of the North Korean government`s foundation ceremony in Pyongyang in September last year.
Quoting Kim, Valori said, North Korea wants direct talks with the United States and Japan. Kim had high expectations for the U.S. Democratic Party and for negotiations between North Korea and the United States on the nuclear issue and financial sanctions would be addressed immediately (if Barack Obama was elected president).
On Pyongyang`s relations with Tokyo, Valori said, Just as former (Japanese) Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumis visit to the North brought huge progress (in the North`s past abductions of Japanese nationals), Kim wants a summit between the two countries. However, Japan should not forget Kims feelings over Japanese colonial rule (of the Korean Peninsula).