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North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is “clearly in control” of his country, and US assessments suggest there have been no strong signs of leadership instability since his extended public absence from Sept. 3 to Oct. 13, the top US military officer in South Korea told Pentagon reporters Friday. US Forces Korea Commander Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said US and Republic of Korea officials believe he was recovering from surgery or a health issue, and despite reporting and speculation on leadership instability, in the last two weeks the North Korean leader has publicly visited construction sites and military units. His reappearance coincides with efforts by North Korean diplomats to reach out to the South and other countries in Northeast Asia, Scaparrotti said, but also several “aggressive” military provocations near the North’s maritime border and the demilitarized zone where fire was exchanged between North Korean and South Korean forces. So far, the ROK has responded appropriately and has not escalated these incidents, he added. “I think [North Korea is] being provocative to increase tensions, because they have had some high level talks [with the South] and this is part of their cycle of dialogue and provocation,” Scaparrotti said. (Scaparrotti transcript)