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Reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il apparently underwent brain surgery following a seizure last month, published reports said Thursday. But there were conflicting accounts in rival South Korea about whether the medical procedure left him with lingering impairment. South Korean President Lee Myung Bak's office said it had received intelligence reports that Kim was recovering and was still in control of the country. A senior North Korean official said only, "There are no problems."

Issuing a hasty retraction, the leader of South Ossetia said Thursday the breakaway region would "not relinquish our independence." Earlier in the day, Eduard Kokoity told reporters, "Yes .... we look forward to uniting with North Ossetia and joining the Russian Federation." Russia and Georgia fought last month over South Ossetia, and analysts say any attempt by the former to annex the territory would infuriate Georgians.


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