Kim Jong Il appeared ‘in full control’

WASHINGTON — North Korean leader Kim Jong Il appeared to be “in full control of his government” when an American mission met with him last week to free two imprisoned U.S. journalists, White House national security adviser James L. Jones said Sunday.

Jones, appearing on news programs, said that despite months of credible reports that Kim was struggling with grave health problems, “he seemed in control of his faculties” and “sounded very reasoned” in wide-ranging discussions with former President Bill Clinton.

Kim’s health and control over his government have been key issues in the region for months amid reports from intelligence agencies that the leader’s health setbacks have set off a struggle for power in the impoverished Stalinist state.

The White House has so far released little information on the 3 1/2 hours of conversation between Clinton and the secretive dictator.

Jones provided few additional details, saying the debriefing of mission members was not yet complete.