DATE=7/28/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=US / NORTH KOREA (L) NUMBER=2-264879 BYLINE=NICK SIMEONE DATELINE=BANGKOK CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The United States and North Korea have held their highest level meeting in more than five decades. U-S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met in Bangkok Friday with North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam-Sun in what the United States is calling another step in the communist country's emergence from decades of isolation. But Correspondent Nick Simeone reports Secretary Albright says she was not able to learn anything more about a North Korean offer to end its missile program. TEXT: Secretary Albright's meeting with Foreign Minister Paek lasted longer than expected. She left reporters with the impression that it no doubt was a step forward, but that she still has many more questions about North Korea than answers. /// ALBRIGHT ACT /// My meeting today with Foreign Minister Paek constitutes a substantively modest but symbolically historic step away from the sterility and hostility of the past and towards a more direct and promising approach to resolving differences and establishing common ground. /// END ACT /// At the top of the list of U-S concerns are recent statements North Korea made to Russia suggesting it was willing to give up its missile program if other countries would supply it with technology to conduct peaceful space research. Secretary Albright says she was unable to learn anything more about the offer and a senior U-S official told reporters the United States would continue to seek clarification. In the past year, the United States has eased longstanding sanctions against North Korea after Pyongyang agreed to stop testing ballistic missiles. But Washington remains so concerned about North Korea's missile and nuclear intentions that President Clinton is considering deploying a multi-billion dollar missile shield to defend against a potential attack from North Korea and what the United States calls other rogue nations. This historic U-S /North Korean meeting was just the latest in a week of unprecedented diplomatic initiatives by North Korea, which U-S officials see as another sign Pyongyang may be ready to emerge from decades of isolation. /// ALBRIGHT ACT TWO /// 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 /// Secretary Albright's meeting with her North Korean counterpart comes just a month after the leaders of North and South Korea held their first summit. It also highlights what has been an unprecedented "coming out" by the North on the sidelines of a Southeast Asian regional security meeting here in Bangkok. In just the past few days, North Korean Foreign Minister Paek held his first ever meeting with his counterpart from South Korea, received a promise of diplomatic recognition from Canada and was welcomed into Asia's largest security conference for the first time. (SIGNED) NEB/HK/NJS/JO/JP 28-Jul-2000 07:36 AM LOC (28-Jul-2000 1136 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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