DATE=7/28/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=NORTH KOREA EMERGENCE NUMBER=5-46749 BYLINE=ALISHA RYU DATELINE=HONG KONG CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Since North and South Korea promised to end a half century of Cold War hostility during last month's historic summit in Pyongyang, the communist North has begun to emerge from decades of isolation. On Thursday, the country made its boldest move yet toward international recognition by joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional forum. V-O-A's Alisha Ryu looks at the some of the possible reasons behind the North's unprecedented diplomatic outreach. TEXT: Marking its first appearance at a regional forum of Southeast Asian nations in Bangkok, North Korea wasted no time in affirming new cooperation with South Korea and agreeing to renew normalization talks with Japan. It accepted diplomatic recognition from Canada and New Zealand. And on Friday, North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun met U-S Secretary Madeleine Albright in the highest-level talks between the two countries in more than 50 years. /// ALBRIGHT ACT /// If anybody had told me that I would be shaking hands with the foreign minister of the D-P-R-K (North Korea) today, I would have been very surprised and so I look forward to this relationship moving forward on a considered and careful step-by-step basis. /// END ACT /// North Korea's whirlwind diplomacy follows the landmark mid-June summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. North Korean expert Yasuhiko Yoshida at Sitama University in Japan says the success of that summit appears to have convinced Pyongyang that gaining international acceptance quickly was the only way to open high-level talks with Washington on lifting sanctions that has crippled its economy. /// YOSHIDA ACT ONE /// For the past 10 years, Pyongyang has been trying to win concessions from Washington. Russia and China have closer relations with Seoul, and Pyongyang found itself quite weak militarily and strategically. Pyongyang's target is to sign a peace treaty with the United States and to win total removal of all sanctions. /// END ACT /// Mr. Yoshida says any international gains North Korea makes now must be seen in the context of the many setbacks in the past that have come to define the communist country's relations with the West and its allies. In the early 1990s, for example, the North tried to engage South Korea and Japan in direct talks to reduce tensions stemming from the North's nuclear and missile program. But even modest agreements signed with Seoul at the time were never implemented, and talks with Tokyo stalled on several issues, including the weapons development question. Since 1994, several rounds of nuclear and arms control talks with the United States have also been largely fruitless, with each side accusing the other of reneging on promises made in the so-called "agreed framework" accord signed in Geneva, Switzerland, six years ago. The United States says North Korea has not kept its promise to stop producing missiles and weapons of mass destruction. North Korea says Washington has not lived up to its promise to lift all sanctions and extend diplomatic recognition. Mr. Yoshida predicts North Korean overtures to win international support will have little impact if Pyongyang does not halt its weapons program once and for all. And there is little chance that will happen, he says, without a peace treaty with Washington. /// YOSHIDA ACT TWO /// Until Washington comes to sign a peace treaty and together with a total lifting of economic and other sanctions against Pyongyang, they will keep their missiles in their hands as a bargaining chip. Otherwise, they have no card to play with Washington and they will lose everything in future deals. /// END ACT /// Mr. Yoshida says without Washington's full backing, it is unlikely North Korea will receive a warm welcome from the United States' most important ally in Asia, Japan. Tokyo has not rushed to mend ties with North Korea, in part because of demands by Pyongyang for an apology and huge reparations for Japan's colonial occupation of Korea. But the two countries are scheduled to restart talks on normalizing relations in late August. (Signed) NEB/HK/AR/JO/JP 28-Jul-2000 08:34 AM LOC (28-Jul-2000 1234 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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