(AFP) – Nov 5, 2008
TOKYO (AFP) — A top French brain surgeon has admitted he visited Pyongyang last month but denied treating North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il for a reported stroke, a Japanese broadcaster said Wednesday.
Francois-Xavier Roux, head of neurosurgery at Paris' Sainte-Anne Hospital, was shown footage of himself filmed by Fuji Television Network as he prepared to board flight CA121 bound for Pyongyang from Beijing on October 24.
Asked by one of its journalists if he visited the North Korean capital, Roux confirmed that he had, the network said.
But he said the important question was whether he had treated the 66-year-old Kim, adding, "The answer is no."
Roux had earlier said he visited Beijing -- a common transit point for travellers heading from Europe to North Korea -- but denied having travelled to Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-Nam, the eldest son of the reclusive North Korean leader, is believed to have visited the brain surgeon in Paris, the broadcaster said last week.
Speculation about Kim's health has swirled since he failed to appear at a key anniversary parade in early September, and US and South Korean officials say he is believed to have suffered a stroke.
On Wednesday, North Korea released two photographs of Kim inspecting army units as part of a continuing campaign to counter reports that he has suffered a stroke.
Kim's health is the subject of intense speculation because he has not publicly nominated a successor to run the impoverished and nuclear-armed nation.
Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso said last week Kim was probably in hospital but still capable of making decisions.
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