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INTRO:  The announcement a few weeks ago that South 
Korean President Kim Dae-jung and his North Korean 
counterpart, Kim Jong-il, will meet in June in --
Pyongyang -- has set off a good deal of speculation 
around the world.
At first, many newspapers were cautiously optimistic.  
Others were skeptical that such a meeting could 
actually take place.  With the third round of 
preparatory talks having wound up just Wednesday 
[5/3], the skepticism has given way to another 
question: why does normally xenophobic North Korea 
want such a meeting with its arch-enemy.
We get some views on this and other questions 
concerning the possible improvement of relations 
between the two Koreas now from ___________ in this 
week's World Opinion Roundup.
TEXT:  One of the biggest daily newspapers in the 
world, Tokyo's Asahi, took a line repeated in many 
other papers that "excessive optimism cannot be 
warranted, given the many twists and turns that have 
occurred between the two Koreas in the past."  Other 
newspapers in Asia suggested that as far as North 
Korea is concerned: words are cheap; wait to see the 
deeds.  Even so, several newspapers have begun to 
temper their caution, admitting now that North Korea 
appears to be "serious" about the upcoming summit.  
And more than a few have begun trying to deepen their 
knowledge about the isolated, hard-line communist 
state to find out why it has decided to go ahead with 
such a meeting after so many years of hostility.
We begin our sampling, appropriately enough, in North 
Korea where the criticism of both South Korea and the 
United States has not let up -- pending summit or no 
pending summit.  This comment comes from the Korean 
Central News Agency's computer internet web site.
      VOICE:  The sharply increasing cases of 
      threatened bomb attack on the U-S forces' base 
      and installations in South Korea are an 
      expression of the South Korean people's curse 
      and resentment at the U-S aggressor forces in 
      South Korea, says (workers' newspaper) Rodong 
      Sinmun ... in a signed commentary ... An anti-U-
      S struggle is mounting and U-S military bases 
      and installations in South Korea are becoming 
      its targets. ... The United States should 
      withdraw its aggression troops from South Korea 
      to put an end to its anachronistic policy of 
      military presence there.
TEXT:  In an earlier commentary, the Rodong Sinmun is 
quoted this way:
      VOICE:  ...A climate is now being created for 
      the reconciliation between the North and South 
      of Korea and peace on the Korean peninsula.  
      This offers the best opportunity for the 
      withdrawal of the U-S troops from South Korea.  
      The Korean people do not want to see the United 
      States remaining their sworn enemy.
TEXT:  To the south now, for a commentary from former 
South Korean foreign minister Han Seung-joo, which ran 
recently in Dong-A Ilbo.
      VOICE:  Clearly, the new leader, Kim Jong-il, is 
      politically confident as a leader and in his 
      regime, and this shows in the fact that he has 
      taken a risky course of diplomacy.  Six years 
      after his father's death, he must believe his 
      political standing is fully solidified, solid 
      enough to bear the dangers from starting to open 
      his country up to a more affluent South Korea.  
      The summit, in his eyes, is a gamble worth the 
TEXT:  Across town, this comment appeared in a column 
in Joong-Ang Ilbo last month:
      VOICE:  President Kim Dae-jung's Pyongyang visit 
      in June will certainly carry ...[great] 
      significance ... While expectations are running 
      high, this Korean summit ... should be an 
      occasion to dismantle the 50 years of hostility 
      and mistrust between Seoul and Pyongyang, and -- 
      more importantly -- to infuse a real sense of a 
      breakthrough into our relationship ... Once the 
      air of a new sense of trust sets through the 
      summit, the rest can somehow find its way toward 
      resolution ...
TEXT:  For another view, we read in Tokyo's Yomiuri:
      VOICE:  the ... summit, if realized, will take 
      place for the first time since the two Koreas 
      were established in 1948 ... President Kim's 
      approach represents a great leap forward in the 
      South's diplomacy toward the North.  It is 
      imperative -- first and foremost -- that the two 
      Koreas hold direct talks to ease tensions and 
      build a framework for peace on the Korean 
TEXT: Moving farther afield, now, we head south for 
the Australian view from Sydney and the business-
oriented Australian Financial Review.
      VOICE:  The ... summit ... offers the prospect 
      of a major reduction in tensions in one of the 
      world's most intractable security hotspots.  
      And, coming almost exactly 50 years after the 
      beginning of the Korean War, it will present a 
      powerfully symbolic way of finally closing the 
      door on Cold War tensions between communism and 
      the West.
TEXT: In Indonesia, the daily Suara Karya, a political 
party daily, wrote:
      VOICE:  The North Korean government is making a 
      strong effort to demonstrate that it truly wants 
      to reconcile with South Korea.  According to 
      Yonhap news agency, a senior South Korean 
      official noted that North Korea is seeking to 
      ease military tensions with South Korea... This 
      can be taken as a sign that the North Korean 
      military supports the upcoming summit. ... North 
      Korea suffers from a poor economy in which more 
      than half the population suffers from famine and 
      badly needs South Korean assistance.
TEXT: In Singapore, the Straits Times daily was at 
once skeptical and excited by news of the summit.
      VOICE:  North Korea has been a slippery customer 
      [crafty adversary] even as its circumstances 
      have worsened steadily through starvation and 
      lack of spares and fuel.  It takes but gives 
      little; its words are cheap.  South Korean 
      negotiators know that better than anyone.  Yet 
      in spite of this, it is hard to contain one's 
      excitement over [the] ... announcement that the 
      two adversaries stand ready -- at least in 
      intent -- to dismantle the Cold War structure in 
      their first summit meeting since the end of the 
      Korean War in 1953 ...
TEXT:  In Europe, The London Times suggests:
      VOICE:  The thaw has been as dramatic as it is 
      unexpected.  If South Korea's president ... does 
      actually meet Kim Jong Il, the "dear leader" of 
      North Korea, in Pyongyang this June, the mere 
      fact that the leaders of two nations technically 
      still at war have talked will be an 
      extraordinary breakthrough -- no matter what is 
      said.  It is almost impossible to overstate its 
      symbolic and, possibly, strategic importance ...
TEXT:  Recalling the problems that beset West Germany 
when it began to assimilate East Germany after the 
Berlin wall fell, France's Liberation, notes from 
      VOICE:  A hasty reunification of the two Koreas 
      could be a major destabilizing element.  This is 
      not yet the case, but the precedent of the 
      German reunification proves that history could 
      once again catch us off guard.
TEXT:  And finally, in the financial capital of 
Germany, The Frankfurter Rundschau wonders how things 
would play out world wide, if the two Koreas improve 
their relations.
      VOICE:  A lessening of tensions ... is of 
      interest not only to Seoul and Pyongyang.  It 
      would also mean that the distrust expressed in 
      public papers by U-S secret services against the 
      "rouge nation" North Korea would lose part of 
      its justification.  ... Efforts by U-S 
      conservatives to revise the 1972 A-B-M [Anti-
      Ballistic Missile] Treaty and the plans for 
      regional, space-based [theater] missile defense 
      systems (T-M-Ds) would become less plausible, 
      especially since the Russian Duma is [linking] 
      its ... long-delayed START-Two ratification to 
      the A-B-M -- T-M-D situation.
TEXT:  On that note, we conclude this sampling from 
some of the world's major newspapers on the 
significance of the forthcoming summit meeting between 
the leaders of North and South Korea.
05-May-2000 13:26 PM EDT (05-May-2000 1726 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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