|SLUG: 2-268330 Albright / North Korea (L-only)||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=ALBRIGHT / NORTH KOREA (L-oniter)
INTRO: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says the United States and North Korea are moving toward a fundamental improvement in their relations. Ms. Albright is in Pyongyang exploring the possibility of a visit to North Korea by President Clinton.
V-O-A's Kyle King reports from Pyongyang on the second day (Tuesday) of an unprecedented American diplomatic mission.
TEXT: Secretary of State Albright told North Korean leader Kim Jong-il that the road to fully normal relations will remain uphill.
But, speaking at a dinner here in her honor, the secretary said her visit to North Korea will help the two countries move farther down the road of cooperation.
Monday afternoon, Ms. Albright and the North Korean leader held more than three hours of unscheduled talks on some of the difficult issues that continue to strain relations. Topping that list are U-S concerns about Pyongyang's ballistic-missile program, and about technology transfers to countries like Iran and Libya.
A senior U-S official described Monday's talks as useful and substantive.
The United States would like to see North Korea abandon its missile program. North Korea would like to get off the U-S terrorism list, a move that would open the way to badly-needed international financial help.
Ms. Albright, who is the highest-ranking U-S official ever to visit North Korea, also has been exploring the possibility of a visit by President Clinton. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher indicates U-S concerns will have to be addressed before that can happen.
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Being able to deal successfully with these issues is key to having a successful visit by the president.
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The State Department spokesman also revealed Secretary of State Albright delivered a letter from President Clinton to Kim Jong-il.
The letter outlined Mr. Clinton's ideas on how to improve ties further between the two countries, which fought against each other in the Korean War.
During her toast to the North Korean leader late Monday, Ms. Albright said the differences between the two countries remain real. But, she added, there is no barrier to close ties.
Since a historic summit meeting between the North Korean and South Korean leaders last June, Pyongyang has quickly moved to end more than a half-century of isolation. Earlier this month, Germany and Britain sad they plan to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea soon. A visit by President Clinton would mark another step toward normalcy in what had been one of the lingering hot spots of the cold war. (Signed)