|SLUG: 2-268299 Albright/Pyongyang (L-Only)||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
INTRO: U-S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has opened an historic vist to North Korea, where she is holding talks on a further easing of tensions which date back five decades. VOA's Kyle King has this report from the North Koeran capital, Pyongyang.
TEXT: The Secretary smiled broadly as she stepped off her plane, becoming the highest-ranking U-S official to vist North Korea since the end of the bloody conflict on the Korean peninsula in 1953. An eight year old schoolboy presented Ms. Albright with a bouquet of flowers, before she was whisked off to begin two days of meetings that are expected to include talks with the reclusive North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il.
The visit was agreed to earlier this month and could pave the way for a trip to North Korea by President Clinton, later this year.
Ms. Albright's talks are likely to focus on North Korea's missile program and terrorism. North Korea remains on the U-S list of state sponsors of terrorism, an issue that has blocked badly-needed interntionaol loans.
In addition to meeting with her North Korean counterpart, Paek Nam-sun, and the president of the Supreme People's Assembly, Ms. Albright will visit a kindergarten and a World Food Program distribution site, during the day. North Korea's economic problems have been compouded by food shortages, which have only been relieved through a massive influx of foreign aid.
The Secretary's visit comes amid a dramatic opening by Pyongyang to outside contacts. Since the watershed summit between the North and South Korean leaders in June, Britain and Germany have said they plan to establish diplomatic ties.
Ms. Albright is scheduled to travel to Seoul on Wednesday to brief Japanese and South Korean officials on her trip. (signed)