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South, North hold ministerial talks today on Kim Jong-Il`s visit

South, North hold ministerial talks today on Kim Jong-Il`s visit

Posted March. 13, 2001 00:02,   


In their fifth round of ministerial talks Tuesday, officials of South and North Korea are slated to discuss the planned visit to Seoul by North Korean Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-Il and other matters of mutual concern. The four-day meeting will be held at the Hotel Shilla in Seoul.

During the talks, Seoul is expected to give priority to the invigoration of defense ministers` talks and related discussions by a working-level military commission with a view to installing an inter-Korean military hotline and accelerating bilateral military exchanges.

Seoul is poised to address the issues of accelerating tension-reduction steps, boosting confidence-building and dealing with skeptical comments about the North Korean regime made by U.S. President George W. Bush during his summit with President Kim in Washington. For this reason, all eyes will be focused on what attitude the North Korean side takes on these issues.

Government officials said Monday that the talks could provide a good opportunity for the North to gauge the extent of the U.S. concerns. Through contacts between chief delegates or working-level talks during the ministerial meeting, officials will brief their North Korean counterparts on U.S. President Bush`s perception of the North Korean leadership. They will also outline President Kim`s concept of comprehensive reciprocity, which was proposed during his meeting with the U.S. president.

Kim Young-Sik spear@donga.com