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Albright arrives in P'yang today, meets N.K. strongman tomorrow

Albright arrives in P'yang today, meets N.K. strongman tomorrow

Posted October. 22, 2000 03:08,   


U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arrived at Sunan airport near Pyongyang on Monday morning for a historic 3-day visit to North Korea. The first member of the American cabinet to travel to the Communist country will meet National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-Il Tuesday morning. She was reportedly carrying a personal letter from President Bill Clinton to Kim in which Clinton expressed his wish to visit the North.

What overtures for improving ties with Washington will come from North Korean strongman Kim when he receives the visiting Secretary of State is the focus of attention. Albright is scheduled to meet with Kim's top military aide, Jo Myong-Rok, Supreme People's Assembly presidium chairman Kim Young-Nam and Foreign Minister Paek Nam-Sun. Topics to be covered during her talks with these officials include a halt to North Korea¡¯s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development programs, the removal of the North from Washington¡¯s list of terrorism-sponsoring states, the replacement of the armistice accord with a peace treaty, the easing of hostilities and the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Albright will fly into Seoul Oct. 25 to pay a courtesy visit to President Kim Dae-Jung. The visit will be followed by talks with Foreign Minister Lee Joung-Binn and Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono on coordinating the North Korea policies of the three allies before she leaves for the United States Oct. 26.

At midnight Oct. 21 Albright departed from Andrews Air Force Base near Washington and stopped over at Elmend of Air Force Base in Alaska on her way to Pyongyang. State Department spokesman Richard Baucher said last week that Secretary Albright is traveling to North Korea to explore the possibility of President Clinton's visit and that significant progress in major issues pending between Washington and Pyongyang should precede any final decision on the presidential trip to North Korea.

Much headway needs to be made in Albright's talks with senior North Korean officials to clear the way for a top-level encounter between Clinton and the North's Kim.