The U.S. national security adviser says North Korean leader Kim Jong Il still appears to be in "full control" of his government.
Jim Jones based the assessment Sunday on reports from the recent trip of former U.S. President Bill Clinton to North Korea.
South Korean intelligence reports have suggested Mr. Kim has pancreatic cancer, raising questions about his successor. North Korean media deny Mr. Kim is sick.
Mr. Clinton traveled to Pyongyang this past week to secure the release of two U.S. journalists who were jailed in March for illegally entering North Korea.
Jones said on Fox News Sunday Mr. Clinton also asked for the release of South Korean and Japanese detainees held in North Korea.
He said Mr. Clinton's private mission was first vetted with South Korea, Japan, China and Russia.
Jones said the former U.S. president did not carry an official message from the White House when he and Mr. Kim spoke for 3.5 hours. He described the conversation as "respectful and cordial."
He said Mr. Clinton's visit was first proposed by North Korea in messages conveyed by the jailed journalists to their families.
Jones said North Korea has indicated it would like better relations with the United States.
Pyongyang has advocated direct talks with Washington, but the U.S. says that could only happen in the context of six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program.