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U.S. Allows North Korean UN Representatives to Visit Washington

U.S. Allows North Korean UN Representatives to Visit Washington

Posted July. 18, 2004 22:08,   


The U.S. State Department said on July 16 it had accepted the request of North Korean representatives to the United Nations Park Gil-yon and deputy representative Han Song-ryol, who had wanted to visit Washington, D.C. to participate in the “Korean Peninsula Peace Forum.”

The U.S. government has not permitted North Korean diplomats to travel to the U.S. capital so far. Ambassador Park’s visit to Washington, D.C. will be the first visit of a high-ranking North Korean official since the Vice Commander of the Korean People’s Army, Cho Myung-rok, visited in October 2000.

The U.S. makes it a rule for North Korean diplomats to the U.N. to get permission when they travel farther than 25 miles (40km) from UN headquarters.

The U.S. administration’s measure seems to be related to an appeasement policy for North Korea surrounding the third six-nation talks on North Korea’s program to develop nuclear weapons.

However, a diplomatic source said, “As the U.S. considers everything by case, we can’t expect epoch-making changes in the North-U.S. relationship and the nuclear issues from this measure.”

“The U.S. administration’s measure has something to do with President George W. Bush’s presidential campaign strategy, being conscious of Korean people in U.S.,” said a North Korea expert in Washington, adding, “The Bush administration’s policies towards North Korea have changed in attitude, but the basic strategies haven’t changed.”

Deputy Representative Han stated, “When participating in the peace forum, I will point out that North Korean nuclear issues can be resolved only if the U.S. withdraws its hostile policy towards the DPRK and starts a diplomatic settlement through bilateral negotiations.”

The “Korean Peninsula Peace Forum” will be held on July 20 under the auspices of three Korea-related institutions in U.S., including the Korea Society (headed by former U.S. ambassador to Korea, Donald P. Gregg), attended by delegates from South and North Korea.

Organizers are said to have tried to invite the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly delegation to hold a forum attended by lawmakers from South and North Korea and the U.S., but invited representative Park and others due to the bad situation.

Only four Uri lawmakers, including Chang Young-dal, will participate in the forum from South Korea. Lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties were invited, and from the U.S., the Democratic Party secretary of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joseph R. Biden, Curt Weldon of U.S. House of Representatives and Jack Pritchard, former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea of the U.S. State Department are expected to attend.

Soon-Taek Kwon maypole@donga.com