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INTRO:  President Clinton is welcoming plans by the 
leaders of North and South Korea to hold a first-ever 
summit later this year.   Correspondent Deborah Tate 
reports from the White House.
Text:  White House spokesman Joe Lockhart read a 
statement by President Clinton praising South Korean 
President Kim Dae Jung and North Korean leader Kim 
Jong-Il for scheduling the face-to-face talks, to take 
place in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, in June.
            /// FIRST LOCKHART ACTUALITY ///
      Direct dialogue between the two Koreas is 
      something we have long advocated and is 
      fundamental to solving the problems of the 
      Korean peninsula.  
            /// END ACT ///
Although the U-S administration has long been pressing 
for such a meeting, Mr. Clinton's statement attributed 
much of the credit for arranging the talks to the 
South Korean leader's so-called Sunshine policy, which 
has provided food assistance to the famine-plagued 
Communist North and encouraged Washington and Seoul to 
engage with Pyongyang.
      This announcement is testimony to the wisdom and 
      long-term vision of President Kim Dae Jung's 
      engagement policy.  I congratulate both 
      leaders on their decision to meet.
            /// END ACT ///
At the State Department, Secretary Madeleine Albright 
also welcomed word of the summit in a phone call to 
her South Korean counterpart (Lee Joung-Binn).
The United States has been advocating a direct meeting 
between the South and North Korean leaders since 1994, 
when former President Jimmy Carter helped broker a 
planned summit meeting that was scrapped because of 
the death then-North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, father 
of Kim Jong-Il.   
Last year, in a report on U-S policy toward North 
Korea, former Defense Secretary William Perry again 
underscored the importance of direct talks between the 
leaders in the effort to end one of the Cold War's 
last conflicts.
Meanwhile, the United States - which has some 37-
thousand troops on the Korean peninsula - has been 
stepping up its diplomacy with North Korea in recent 
months in an effort to get Pyongyang to abandon its 
missile program in exchange for possible economic aid.  
The administration is seeking to invite a high-level 
North Korean delegation to Washington for the first 
time, and officials say they hope a deal on the 
possible visit will be reached in the coming weeks.  
10-Apr-2000 17:28 PM EDT (10-Apr-2000 2128 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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