INTRO: U-S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says
American troops should stay in South Korea to assure
the stability of the region. Ms. Albright was
speaking after holding talks with South Korean leaders
in Seoul. As Hyun-Sung Khang reports from the South
Korean capital, the secretary of state has been
assessing the apparent change in the direction of the
North Korean leadership.
TEXT: Following meetings with the South Korean
President, Kim Dae Jung, and the country's foreign
minister, Ms Albright said it is clear that the
continued presence of American forces is important for
stability in the region. Her comments follow the
unprecedented summit held earlier this month between
the leaders of the two Koreas.
Ms. Albright says that while the summit was hopeful,
there is still no resolution to North Korea's
continuing ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
She added that therefore, it is inappropriate to talk
about withdrawing U-S troops.
The continued presence of U-S forces was underlined by
the South Korean foreign minister, Lee Joung-Binn, who
said the South Korean president had made it clear to
the North's leader, the importance of the 37-thousand
American troops currently stationed in the South.
While the secretary of state ruled out the withdrawal
of U-S troops on the peninsula, she held out the
possibility of a meeting with North Korea's foreign
minister at the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations' Regional Forum, scheduled in Bangkok next
Ms. Albright said the United States is looking forward
to new talks with Pyongyang about its missile program,
but did not announce when these might take place.
North Korea suspended the talks 15 months ago.
North Korea shook the region two years ago by firing a
ballistic missile over Japan. But earlier this week,
it promised to maintain a moratorium on ballistic
missile launches it first announced last September.
The secretary of state visited Seoul to assess the
apparent change in direction by the North Korean
leadership, which is showing signs that it may be
ready to open up to the rest of the world. The United
States has responded by easing economic sanctions
against Pyongyang, but North Korea still remains on
Washington's list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
23-Jun-2000 10:44 AM EDT (23-Jun-2000 1444 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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