|SLUG: 2-268635 Clinton / North Korea (L)||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=CLINTON / NORTH KOREA (L)
INTRO: President Clinton discussed North Korean missile proposals with top advisers Monday, but is deferring a decision on whether to pay an unprecedented visit to Pyongyang as part of the Asian trip he begins in mid-November. As V-O-A's David Gollust reports from the White House, U-S and North Korean officials hold more missile talks this week in Kuala Lumpur.
TEXT: Experts of the two countries will meet Wednesday in the Malaysian capital for talks that U-S officials say could determine whether a deal is possible that would end North Korea's long-range missile program and clear the way for a presidential visit.
When they met last week in Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il told Secretary of State Madaleine Albright he accepts "the idea" of such an arrangement but the details - including what the north might expect in exchange for ending its missile efforts - were left vague.
Briefing reporters here, spokesman Jake Siewert said the administration wants to hear more about North Korean intentions before agreeing to a Clinton visit:
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We'll make an overall judgment based on whether we think a trip would advance our interests - our interests in non-proliferation, our interests in lessening tension on the (Korean) peninsula, our interests in reducing the threat that missile program poses to our allies in the region and to the United States.
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The North Korean leader told visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin in July his government is willing to scrap missile testing in exchange for outside help in launching satellites, although it was not clear how such a condition would be met or if, indeed, it was a serious offer.
North Korea's launch of a multi-stage rocket over Japan two years ago triggered widespread alarm that it was seeking an inter-continental missile capability. Pyongyang later it had been trying to orbit a satellite.
The U-S team in Kuala Lumpur, to be headed by Assistant Secretary of State Robert Einhorn, will be seeking not only an end to missile development and testing but also curbs on North Korean exports of missile technology.
President Clinton convened his national security team for a meeting Monday on North Korea that included a briefing by Ms. Albright on her talks with Kim Jong-Il.
In an earlier appearance on the A-B-C television network, Ms. Albright said she had a "logical and pragmatic" discussions with the North Korean leader, and that he was not the "peculiar person" portrayed in some media accounts.
A Clinton visit to North Korea would further underline a drive for diplomatic recognition by the Stalinist government that gained speed with the historic North-South Korean summit last June.
The president's Asia itinerary already includes the first visit by a U-S president to Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam war. (Signed)