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DATE=4/10/2000
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
TITLE=NORTH - SOUTH KOREA SUMMIT
NUMBER=5-46105
BYLINE=STEPHANIE MANN
DATELINE=WASHINGTON
INTERNET=YES
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:
INTRO:  American experts on Korean issues say a summit 
between the leaders of North and South Korea could go 
a long way toward easing tensions between the two 
countries.  But as V-O-A's Stephanie Mann reports, the 
experts say they have only modest expectations, given 
the history of talks between two countries that are 
still technically at war.  
TEXT:  Korea specialists in the United States say the 
planned summit in June between North Korean leader Kim 
Jong-il and South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung is a 
very significant development.    
Kongdan Oh, a Korea specialist at the Institute for 
Defense Analysis (in Virginia, just outside Washington 
D-C) says if the meeting occurs, it will be a positive 
move and an historic event.  Ms. Oh says since Korea 
was divided more than 50 years ago, the two sides have 
held various talks, but never above the level of prime 
minister.  
            /// OH ACT ONE ///
      But the heads of the two states have never met 
      in history.  And in contemporary Korean history, 
      particularly the tragic division of the Korean 
      peninsula, this is maybe the most important 
      political and diplomatic move to sit down 
      together and to discuss how to resolve the so-
      called Korea question.
            /// END ACT ///
When the Korean War ended in 1953, the two sides 
agreed to a truce, but a peace treaty was never 
signed, and tensions have remained high.  South Korea 
has consistently called for a direct North-South 
dialogue, but Pyongyang has preferred to negotiate 
with the United States, calling Seoul an American 
puppet.  
Ms. Oh says Pyongyang and Seoul probably agreed now to 
holding a summit because each side sees ways it can 
benefit.
            /// OH ACT TWO ///
      For example, North Korea badly needs fertilizer, 
      grain aid, economic aid without much political 
      strings attached - particularly from South 
      Korea, because other countries are very slow to 
      come with aid packages.  And so, maybe North 
      Korea saw that South Korea is eager to do that 
      and they accepted it. 
            /// END ACT ///
For South Korea, Ms. Oh says domestic politics are 
probably the motivation for the timing of the summit.  
She notes the South is holding parliamentary elections 
this week and says this announcement may help boost 
support for the ruling party in Seoul.
The director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University 
(in Washington), David Steinberg, agrees both 
countries stand to gain if the summit is held in mid-
June, as planned.  But Professor Steinberg cautions 
that North Korea has a history of canceling such 
events. 
            /// STEINBERG ACT ONE /// 
      Whenever the North Koreans are included in some 
      sort of important meeting, or even academic 
      meeting, they often do not show (up) for reasons 
      that seem obscure to the outside world.  
      Remember that at the end of March, a high level 
      North Korean was to come to Washington, and that 
      trip was postponed indefinitely. 
            /// END ACT ///
If the summit goes forward, Professor Steinberg says 
the two sides may discuss ways to lessen tensions on 
the Korean peninsula, including specific steps such as 
direct mail exchange, more direct trade, and contacts 
between family members separated for 50 years.  
Mr. Steinberg says North Korea's agreement to hold a 
summit at this time seems to be part of a new 
atttitude in Pyongyang -- a desire to engage with the 
rest of the world.
            /// STEINBERG ACT TWO /// 
      They've just normalized relations with Italy.  
      They are talking to Australia and the 
      Philippines.  They are talking seriously with 
      the United States.  And they are now talking 
      about normalization with Japan, which is 
      probably the most significant in terms of money.  
      So, there is a concerted effort on the part of 
      North Korea to expand its international 
      contacts. 
            /// END ACT/// 
Professor Steinberg says it is important for the 
United States and other countries to encourage the 
dialogue between North and South Korea, because he 
says many countries stand to benefit from a more 
peaceful Korean peninsula. (Signed)   
NEB/SMN/KL
10-Apr-2000 12:10 PM EDT (10-Apr-2000 1610 UTC)
NNNN
Source: Voice of America
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