US Officials Think Kim Jong Il May Be Sick

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, right, and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun Sou share toast during farewell luncheon at summit in Pyongyang, North Korea, Oct. 4, 2007. (AP/Pool via Yonhap)
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Washington (AP) U.S. and other western officials are keeping a close eye on signs that North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Il may be facing a grave illness.

There was no sign of Kim at a parade today marking the 60th anniversary of North Korea's founding. His last reported public appearance was in the middle of last month. The country's state media has been silent about his absence.

The White House says President Bush is watching the situation.

One western intelligence official says there's reason to believe Kim has suffered a “serious health setback, possibly a stroke.” A senior U.S. Official says rumors have been circulating for weeks about the state of kim's health and his control over North Korea's
government.

Intelligence officials say one of several family members or senior military officials might step in if Kim is incapacitated.