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Koreas Celebrate Landmark Summit

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Koreas celebrate landmark summit
(from BBC News, June 14, 2005)


Religious and civic leaders and politicians are in Pyongyang
Some 300 South Koreans have arrived in the North to mark the fifth anniversary of an historic summit which boosted relations across the divided peninsula.
The 2000 meeting saw warm handshakes and a host of promised projects. But since then, tensions have risen over the North´s nuclear programme.

Reflecting this, Pyongyang requested the South scale down its delegation.

Some 40 South Korean officials are to attend the four-day event, which will include celebrations and meetings.

The official meetings are set to include one between South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young and the North´s number two leader, Kim Yong-nam.

Mr Chung is expected to try and persuade the North to re-join international talks on Pyongyang´s nuclear weapons programme, which have been stalled for nearly a year.

Cultural ties

A 300-strong civic delegation of union members, religious and agricultural officials and politicians will take part in inter-Korean athletic matches and pageants intended to illustrate the unity of Korean people.

Since the 2000 summit, the South has continued its policy of promoting reconciliation - road and rail links have been reconnected and economic contacts have increased.

But the BBC´s Charles Scanlon in Seoul says much of the promise of the meeting has not been fulfilled. The North´s leader, Kim Jong-il, has not made a return visit; political contacts remain precarious; and there is still little opportunity for contact between ordinary people.

The civic delegation released a statement before it left Seoul, pledging to work to end the tensions surrounding the North´s nuclear programme.

"The conflict between the North and the United States has deepened over the North´s latest nuclear problem... and there is a growing sense that it will develop into an extreme situation no one wants," it said.

This year´s celebrations "will put an end to the history of disintegration and confrontation... and show to the world our people´s joint will to preserve peace in whatever situation."

Seoul´s approach to the North has been softer than that of the US, especially since George W Bush took over the presidency in January 2001.

US officials say more coercive measures, such as sanctions, will be needed if North Korea does not return to the negotiating table.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and Mr Bush held talks on Friday, but brushed aside suggestions that they were divided over the issue, insisting they "speak with one voice".

But the BBC´s Adam Brookes in Washington says Mr Roh´s government is wary of the Bush administration´s intentions and many South Koreans blame the US for provoking the confrontation.



(BBC News) 6/14/2005