|SLUG: 268401 Korea's / U-S||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=KOREAS US - L
INTRO: US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says she believes there has been progress in her security talks with North Korea. She made the comment in Seoul, where is has been briefing her South Korean and Japanese counterparts on her talks with the North Korean leader this week. From the South Korean capital, Hyun-Sung Khang reports.
TEXT: US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says she and North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, discussed ways to alleviate US concerns over North Koreas missile program.
/// ALBRIGHT ACT ///
We did obviously talk about the missiles and the idea of exchanging satellite launches for serious missile restraint. We think that progress
was made and as I said in Pyongyang, there will be expert-level talks to discuss the subject further in the next week.
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The idea that North Korea would be willing to end its missile development in exchange for international help in launching peaceful satellites first emerged in August in a meeting between Kim Jong Il and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ms. Albright says Kim Jong Il told her that a missile launch by Pyongyang in 1998, was their first and last. That test launch Taepodong missile over Japan set off alarm bells in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo. Halting the North Korea's ballistic missile program is a top security objective for the United States and its allies.
The Secretary of State says she was encouraged by Mr. Kim's recent engagement in pursuing reconciliation with South Korea and establishing ties with other nations. But she says the path to normalized relations with North Korea was still closer to its beginning than its end.
Madeleine Albright made these comments at a news conference with her South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Seoul. The three officials
reaffirmed support for a coordinated strategy towards ending decades of hostility with North Korea.
/// OPT /// Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono says Japan plans to build on Ms. Albright's meeting in Pyongyang when Japanese officials meet with North Korea in Beijing next week on normalizing relations. /// END OPT ///
The US secretary of state says, following her two days of talks in North Korea, no decision had yet been made on whether President Clinton will make a trip to Pyongyang.
Madeleine Albright is the highest ranking US official to visit Pyongyang. Her meeting with the North Korean leader marks another milestone
in improving relations between Pyongyang and the rest of the world.(signed)