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(LEAD) Trump says report on N.K. leader's health was 'incorrect'

North Korea 09:03 April 24, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with more Trump remarks, background)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, April 23 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he believes a recent CNN report on Kim Jong-un's failing health was "incorrect."

"I'm hearing they used old documents. That's what I hear," he said during a White House coronavirus press briefing. "I'm hearing that the report was an incorrect report. I hope it was an incorrect report."

Trump's comments come two days after he said the United States doesn't know if the reports are true and added that he wishes Kim well.

"I think the report was done by a network that was incorrect," he said Thursday. "I think it was a fake report done by CNN."

This EPA photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump at a White House coronavirus press briefing on April 23, 2020. (Yonhap)

This EPA photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump at a White House coronavirus press briefing on April 23, 2020. (Yonhap)

On Monday, CNN cited a U.S. official as saying that the U.S. is looking into intelligence that Kim is in "grave danger" after surgery.

That followed a report by the Daily NK, a South Korean news outlet focusing on North Korea issues, that Kim was receiving medical treatment after a cardiovascular procedure.

Trump emphasized his good relations with Kim and repeated his wish for his good health.

"I hope he's not in medical trouble," Trump said. "We have a good relationship with North Korea. As good as you can have. I mean we have a good relationship with North Korea. I have a good relationship with Kim Jong-un, and I hope he's OK."

Trump refused to say whether he has made contact with the North. On Tuesday he had said he may reach out to check on Kim's condition.

"I don't want to say. I won't say that," he said.

Asked when he last heard from Kim, he said, "I don't want to say."

There was confusion after Trump said over the weekend that he recently received a "nice note" from Kim, but then North Korea denied shortly afterward that any message had been sent.

South Korean officials have dismissed recent media reports about Kim's health, saying no unusual signs have been detected in North Korea.

U.S. officials have said that Washington is watching closely what's happening inside the regime. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten said Wednesday that he assumes Kim is still in full control of the North's armed forces.

North Korean media remains mum on Kim's whereabouts, putting out no reports on his public activities.

Kim was last seen on April 11 when he presided over a political bureau meeting of the ruling Workers' Party. He skipped a major celebration marking the birthday of state founder and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, on April 15, sparking rumors about his health.


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