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Moscow plays down speculation over N. Korean leader visit

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Officials in Russia played down media speculation Friday that North Korea's secretive leader Kim Jong-il had entered the country. Western media reported earlier in the day citing a South Korean newspaper that the 65-year-old communist leader's armored train had crossed the Russian border.

MOSCOW, June 23 (RIA Novosti) - Officials in Russia played down media speculation Friday that North Korea's secretive leader Kim Jong-il had entered the country.

Western media reported earlier in the day citing a South Korean newspaper that the 65-year-old communist leader's armored train had crossed the Russian border.

But the Russian Foreign Ministry neither confirmed nor denied categorically the press reports.

"We have no such information," the ministry's press service said.

The administration of the Far Eastern railroads also rejected the speculation.

"According to my information, the North Korea's leader train has neither crossed the Russian border today, nor in the last few days," spokesman Alexander Artamonov said.

A spokesperson for the regional border-guard department with the Federal Security Service, Russia's domestic intelligence service, was even more forthright.

"This cannot be the case," Natalya Rondalyova said.

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