DATE=6/23/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=ALBRIGHT/KOREA (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-263684 BYLINE=HYUN-SUNG KHANG DATELINE=SEOUL CONTENT= VOICED AT: 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 month. 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. (SIGNED) NEB/HSK/JP 23-Jun-2000 10:44 AM EDT (23-Jun-2000 1444 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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