DATE=1/21/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=NORTH KOREA / WORLD BANK (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-258278 BYLINE=HYUN-SUNG KHANG DATELINE=SEOUL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: South Korea says it will support any move by North Korea to join world economic organizations. Hyun-Sung Khang reports from Seoul, a report by the South's Unification Ministry also says the reclusive government in the North intends to improve relations with the outside world in the coming year. TEXT: Past attempts by North Korea to join international economic groups, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank, have always been stymied by its reluctance to open its economy to outside scrutiny. A report by the South Korean Unification Ministry says Pyongyang may now try and accommodate any preconditions, in an attempt to gain access to development funds. It adds that Seoul would support any such efforts by the North to seek membership in international economic organizations. The North's economy has contracted continuously over the last decade, and in recent years it has not officially published its economic figures. The South Korean report says the country's economy appears to have turned around in 1999, growing a little for the first time in nine years. The report also suggests that in an attempt to strengthen its economic situation, Pyongyang is expected to try and improve relations with Washington and Tokyo. The United States and North Korea are due to reopen talks this weekend in Germany on reducing tensions between the two nations. Last year, Washington partly eased trade and other economic sanctions against the North in return for a suspension of its missile program. Japan has also agreed to resume normalization talks with North Korea early this year. The United States and Japan are the largest potential sources of development funds for the North. This public support by Seoul is in line with the South Korean president's so-called "Sunshine policy" of engagement with Pyongyang: an attempt to draw out the reclusive North with greater economic and political contacts. And it comes less than a day after the South Korea President said he would formally propose a summit with the rival North, if his government party wins the forthcoming parliamentary elections. (Signed) NEB/HSK/FC/WTW 21-Jan-2000 05:35 AM EDT (21-Jan-2000 1035 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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