DATE=8/30/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=NORTH KOREA / U-S TROOPS (L) NUMBER=2-265965 BYLINE=ALISHA RYU DATELINE=HONG KONG CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: South Korean President Kim Dae-jung says that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has agreed to a continued U-S troop presence on the Korean peninsula - even after reunification. VOA's Alisha Ryu in our Asia News Center reports Mr. Kim's comments confirm recent news reports on this sensitive issue. TEXT: President Kim says that the North Korean leader and he are in full agreement on the need for U-S troops to keep the peace in Northeast Asia, even if the two Koreas reunite. In an interview with the Washington Post Tuesday, Mr. Kim says he received that assurance during his conversations with Kim Jong Il at their historic June summit meeting in Pyongyang. The South Korean president says the North Korean leader went so far as to call U-S troop presence "desirable" and agreed that the troops would deter China, Japan and Russia from seeking regional hegemony. Mr. Kim says that several years ago, North Korea even sent a high-level envoy to the United States to say Pyongyang would no longer make the withdrawal of U-S troops from South Korea a prerequisite for reunification. North Korea had always insisted, publicly at least, that reunification could not take place until all 37- thousand American troops currently stationed in South Korea were withdrawn. Pyongyang regularly referred to them as an "occupation army" and sometimes demanded their removal as a condition for improved relations with Washington and Seoul. The rapid thaw in relations between the communist North and South Korea since the landmark summit have raised questions on the future of U-S troops in Korea, who have helped keep the uneasy peace between the two sides since the Korean War ended in an armed truce in 1953. Some South Korean groups have recently led public protests, demanding a reduction in forces. But the United States and South Korea are eager to keep the troops in place to discourage a regional power struggle. (Signed) NEB/HK/AR/JO 30-Aug-2000 04:20 AM LOC (30-Aug-2000 0820 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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