DATE=6/12/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=KOREA SUMMIT SCENESETTER NUMBER=5-46482 BYLINE=ROGER WILKISON DATELINE=SEOUL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The leaders of North and South Korea are scheduled to begin an historic three-day summit Tuesday in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, -- the first meeting between the countries' leaders since the Korean War ended about a half century ago. VOA correspondent Roger Wilkison reports communist North Korea wants aid to help rebuild its impoverished economy, South Korea wants to give millions of divided families a chance to reunite, and the world is hoping for a lessening of tensions on the Cold War's last frontier. TEXT: The unprecedented summit was delayed for a day due to what North Korea calls "unavoidable technical problems." What that means is anybody's guess, but South Korean officials say North Korea is angry that South Korean news media have reported on President Kim's schedule of activities when he visits the North. The officials say those reports were mostly based on speculation and ran counter to North Korea's practice of never publicizing the activities of its own leader -- Kim Jong-il -- in advance. /// OPT /// Two weeks ago, Kim Jong-il's trip to China was shrouded in secrecy and not officially disclosed until he returned home. /// END OPT /// South Korea's President Kim was quoted Sunday by his spokesman as saying the two sides have waited 55 years for this meeting, so a delay of one more day does not matter. The South Korean government is trying to downplay expectations about the summit, calling it just the beginning of a long road toward reconciliation after decades of bitter conflict between the two Koreas. But as one South Korean minister puts it, the mere photograph of the two leaders shaking hands and smiling will provide momentum for peace on the peninsula. There has been no formal peace since the Korean War ended in 1953, only an armistice. North Korea, which has suffered famine as a result of five years of natural disasters and mismanagement of its collective farm system, is hoping that the summit will bring it food aid and investment from South Korean companies to rebuild its dilapidated economy. Lee Jung-min, a professor of international relations at Seoul's Yonsei University, says Pyongyang is hoping that the summit and its recent diplomatic opening-up to the outside world will bring in more foreign assistance. /// LEE ACTUALITY /// North Korea's strategy is, I think, quite simple. They cannot afford to open up North Korea like China because of (internal) political repercussions. But they need foreign aid and economic assistance quite badly. So, therefore, by taking the pragmatic diplomatic approach, including the North-South summit, they give the impression that they're moving in the right direction, but not all the way. So, therefore, they're able to lock in assistance and aid from western countries as well as South Korea and Japan. And I think they will pursue this strategy for as long as it takes. /// END ACTUALITY /// In exchange for food aid and investment money, South Korea hopes unpredictable North Korea will move away from military threats to lessen tension on the Korean peninsula. That is a goal shared by the United States, China, Japan and Russia, all of which have a strategic interest in keeping the peninsula stable. But South Korea also wants to facilitate reunions of family members who have been separated since the Korean War. More than seven million South Koreans have relatives in the North, whom they have been unable to visit or phone or even correspond with for a half-century. Cho Dong-young, who heads South Korea's leading association of separated family members, says he is hopeful that an agreement for such reunions can be struck at the summit. If it is not, he says, many separated family members will lose faith in their government's ability to obtain anything from North Korea. /// CHO ACTUALITY (IN KOREAN) /// Mr. Cho says he is, at the very least, hoping for an agreement that will allow divided families to exchange correspondence across the heavily militarized border. If that fails to materialize, he says, the family members -most of whom are elderly- will become desperate. Mr. Cho says the separated families deserve something in exchange for South Korean economic cooperation with the North. He says they should at least be able to find out whether their relatives in the North are alive. Although the broadly worded agenda for the summit will allow both sides to bring up any issue, experts rule out any agreement on such sensitive topics as the U-S troop presence in South Korea or North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. Yonsei University's Professor Lee says the credibility of President Kim Dae-jung's sunshine policy of engaging the North will depend on whether he can build upon the contacts established at the summit. /// LEE ACTUALITY /// What type of follow-up measures will there be? For example, will Kim Jong-il come down to Seoul for a second inter-Korean summit, and will there be routinized high-level discussions? Will, for example, the prime ministers of the two countries, meet again on a regular basis to talk about economic issues, separated families, and to basically enhance security on the peninsula? So, if those follow-up measures do occur within President Kim's remaining two and a half years in office, then I would agree that his place in history would be more secure. So he has to go well beyond just a single summit this time. /// END ACTUALITY /// If the first meetings between the two leaders go smoothly, working groups on the main issues are expected to be set up. /// REST OPT /// Both sides have agreed that there will be no display of national flags and no singing of national anthems at the summit. And, in a departure for most visitors to Pyongyang, the South Korean delegation will not have to bow before the giant statue of North Korea's late leader, Kim Il-sung. (signed) NEB/HK/RW/JO 12-Jun-2000 17:58 PM EDT (12-Jun-2000 2158 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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