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Two Koreas agree to Kim Dae-jung visit to North

Written by: Staff

Seoul, Apr 24: Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who orchestrated an unprecedented meeting of the leaders of the two Koreas, will visit Pyongyang in June, an official said today.

The two Koreas had been in talks about a visit by Kim by rail to the North, but the 82-year-old former president decided to postpone that trip due to political pressures at home.

''South and North Korean officials agreed to the visit of Kim Dae-jung in June to North Korea,'' a South Korean Unification Ministry official said.

There was no further information on the trip, including the dates or who Kim would meet, the official said.

Kim's office said he had postponed the trip after opposition parties said the ruling Uri party would try to gain political mileage from the visit in local elections in May. Kim is loosely allied with the ruling party.

Kim, South Korea's president from 1998 to 2003, won a Nobel Peace prize for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in June 2000, which raised hopes of reducing tensions on the divided peninsula.

The leaders of the two Koreas shared handshakes, hugs and smiles during their meeting in North Korea.

The planned visit this June, six years after that summit, will come at a time when regional powers are trying to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons programmes.

Kim's visit in 2000 paved the way for the start of a rapid warming of political and commercial ties between the North and the South.

But Kim Jong-il has yet to reciprocate with a visit to the South.

The two Koreas remain technically at war under a truce that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.


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