DATE=7/10/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=U-S - NORTH KOREA TALKS (L) NUMBER=2-264239 BYLINE=GARY THOMAS DATELINE=BANGKOK CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The United States and North Korea have opened another round of talks about North Korea's missile program. As VOA Southeast Asia correspondent Gary Thomas reports, the U-S side is expressing cautious optimism about the negotiations. TEXT: The U-S-North Korea talks opened in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, Monday on an upbeat note. U-S Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation Robert Einhorn, who is leading the U-S delegation, says the talks are taking place against what he calls a "positive, promising backdrop" of developments from the North Korean side. He said the United States is looking forward to what he labeled "detailed constructive discussions" on regional and global security issues over the three days of talks. There was no comment from North Korean delegation chief Jang Chang Chon. North Korea has long been an international recluse. But its recent and gradual emergence from its diplomatic shell is seen by U-S officials as reason to hope for a positive outcome of this latest round of talks. The Pyongyang government first set off alarm bells with its nuclear power program, which the U-S and like-minded governments thought could be a front for developing nuclear weapons. North Korea eventually agreed to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for fuel and western nuclear power stations. North Korea's missile development has raised new fears. North Korean scientists have developed their own missile technology based on information gleaned from Scud missiles built by North Korea's one-time patron, the Soviet Union. In 1998, a North Korean test missile was fired over the Japanese island of Honshu, rattling Japan and the West. The United States identifies North Korea as the leading exporter of missile technology to states like Iran and Pakistan. But in recent months, North Korea agreed to a moratorium on long-range missile tests in exchange for an easing of U-S sanctions. It also opened talks with Japan, held a summit meeting with its nemesis, South Korea, and opened diplomatic relations with several Asian and European governments. /// OPT /// Later this month, North Korea will for the first time participate in the ASEAN Regional Forum, a meeting of Asian and Western governments on security issues. /// END OPT /// However, the United States remains deeply concerned over the North Korean missile program, which has led to the campaign by the United States to develop a missile shield system. /// REST OPT /// The proposed system is opposed by China, Russia, and some NATO countries as potentially destabilizing to existing arms control agreements. The United States has also said it has no intention of withdrawing its 37-thousand troops stationed in South Korea. (signed) NEB/HK/GPT/JO/PLM 10-Jul-2000 05:39 AM EDT (10-Jul-2000 0939 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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