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SLUG: 268923 North Korea / U-S DATE: NOTE NUMBER:









INTRO: North Korea says its relations with the United States look brighter, and is pledging to do its best to improve ties with Washington. The

comments follow a series of high-level meetings between officials from the two countries. But as Hyun-Sung Khang reports, recent bilateral discussions aimed at curbing Pyongyang's nuclear program failed to produce results.

TEXT: North Korea says historic visits between officials from Washington and Pyongyang are positive moves toward improving relations between the two countries.

A report by the official North Korean Central News Agency says improved ties will help preserve peace and security on the peninsula and throughout the region. It added that North Korea would do its best to develop to relations.

Despite North Korea's positive comments, recent talks in Kuala Lumpur between the North and the United States ended without agreement on limiting Pyongyang's missile development program.

A US state department official said there were what he described as gaps between the two

countries positions.

A proposed visit to Pyongyang by President Clinton has been put on hold. The State

Department says, given current disagreements, the administration is not in a position to make a decision to go forward. But President Clinton has not ruled out the possibility of a visit to the formerly reclusive communist North, before the end of his presidential term in January.

Last month, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright became the highest ranking US official to visit Pyongyang and hold talks with the North

Korean leader, Kim Jong Il.

Despite months of unprecedented diplomatic activity by North Korea, results have been mixed.

While Britain and Germany announced they would establish diplomatic ties with North Korea other negotiations are stalled. Last week, The third round of talks this year between Pyongyang and Tokyo failed to make progress on terms for normalizing relations. And there have been no breakthroughs on security issues of concern to the United States and its regional allies.

Critics says cash-strapped, isolated North Korea is offering little more than symbolic gestures and it will have to take substantive actions before it can be fully integrated into the international community. (signed)


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