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Donald Trump hails re-emergence of Kim Jong-un

Donald Trump has hailed the reported reappearance of Kim Jong-un . 

"I, for one, am glad to see he is back, and well!" the US president tweeted after the North Korean dictator made his first public appearance in nearly three weeks. 

Speculation over the health of Kim, 36, was triggered by his lengthy absence even failing to appear at his late grandfather‘s birthday celebration on April 15. 

It was the first time he had ever missed the event, which is held at the mausoleum of Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea.  No explanation for his absence was provided by Pyongyang. 

It was the second time in recent years that he disappeared for several weeks. In 2014 he was laid low for six weeks after reportedly sustaining an ankle injury. 

Kim Jong-un‘s return was announced by the official KCNA news agency, which said his appearance cutting the ribbon at the opening of a fertiliser factory, was greeted by "thunderous cheers of hurrah". 

The video showed a beaming Kim at the ceremony at the factory near the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

However,  some observers noticed that he appeared stiff as he walked.

Late last month there were reports that Kim, who is overweight and a smoker, had been suffering from cardiovascular problems.

Then the Daily NK, a website largely run by North Korean defectors, said he had undergone heart surgery made necessary by Kim‘s "excessive smoking, obesity, and overwork."

Intelligence agencies were reportedly monitoring the reports.

At one point it was reported that his health was in grave danger, leading to discussion over who might succeed him – with suggestions that the . 

 Over the weekend the tensions in the region were laid bare as North and South Korean troops exchanged fire for the first time since late 2018.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff accused North Korean troops of firing bullets at a guard post, although there were no casualties.

South Korea in turn fired 20 rounds of warning shots.

Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, sought to play down the significance when he appeared on ABC‘s This Week yesterday.

"We think those are accidental," he said.

 "South Koreans did return fire. So far as we can tell, there was no loss of life on either side."  

Last Monday, with rumours circulating the globe about Kim‘s health, US president Donald Trump said he had a "very good idea" about his condition – but he was unable to talk about it.

Given the paucity of information emerging from North Korea analysts .

One showed a train, believed to belong to Kim, parked at a railway station serving Wonsan, a port city and naval base, where he has a luxury compound.

On Sunday, a South Korean official said that Kim had not undergone surgery.

South Korean presidential adviser Moon Chung-in told CNN that the North Korean leader was "alive and well".

Mr Trump has invested considerable political capital in his relationship with Kim.

Having at one point ridiculed the North Korean dictator as "rocket man", Mr Trump then launched a charm offensive to defuse tensions in the peninsula.

The two men have met three times since 2018, including an historic encounter at Panmunjom, the so-called truce village inside the demilitarised border zone, in June 2019.

Mr Trump has described his relationship with Kim as "excellent".

But hopes of a deal on missiles have proved elusive with Pyongyang continuing to conduct missile tests, even though the US president has repeatedly downplayed their significance, insisting that none posed a threat to the United States.

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