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No end in sight to lull in inter-Korean reconciliation process

No end in sight to lull in inter-Korean reconciliation process

Posted April. 09, 2001 18:19,   


The cancellation of a series of meetings and other inter-Korean events amid cooling relations between Washington and Pyongyang in the wake of President George W. Bush`s inauguration is seen as signaling an extended lull in the South-North reconciliation process.

Prospects have dimmed of a visit to Seoul by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il for a second summit with South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung. The summit was expected to take place in the first half of the year. That may not be possible unless a breakthrough is made soon. A highly placed Seoul government official said North Korea has its hands full with various events crowded into its April schedule and the standoff between the United States and China over the spy plane incident has clouded the atmosphere in East Asia, making it difficult for the two Koreas to find a way out at the moment. He added that a number of avenues would be explored in efforts to restart contact with North Korea, but that any change was unlikely until after May.

The Chosun Shinbo, an organ of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, said in its online edition on Sunday that Washington hardline stance had turned Pyongyang-Washington relations back to the days prior to their joint statement, resulting in the suspension of the inter-Korean ministerial and Red Cross talks. The North Korean government mouthpiece said for the first time that the interruption in dialogue and contacts between the two Koreas was caused by worsened relations between North Korea and the United States. North Korea failed to give valid reasons for scrapping planned talks and other projects, including the formation of a single table tennis team to participate in the world championships in Japan.

North Koreans will celebrate the birthday of the late leader Kim Il-Sung on Apr. 15, currently leader Kim Jong-Il will visit Russia on Apr. 17-18 and a European Union diplomatic mission headed by Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson is scheduled to visit Pyongyang.