- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 16, 2001

SEOUL — Though divided by a sealed border and a half-century of conflict, South and North Korea were united yesterday in their condemnation of the terrorist acts against the United States.
Arriving in Seoul for talks, a top North Korean envoy said the attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were "shocking" and "very regrettable."
The comments by Kim Ryong-song were an unusual show of sympathy from a communist country that has considered the United States its chief enemy ever since the 1950-53 Korean War.
North Korea has been campaigning to get off a U.S. list of nations that sponsor terrorism, which accords a pariah status to that country and prevents it from receiving some international aid.
Mr. Kim, a senior councilor in North Korea's Cabinet, and 26 other delegates traveled from Pyongyang via Beijing for four days of talks aimed at reviving reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.
Official contacts broke down six months ago because of tension between North Korea and the United States, the South's main ally.
Mr. Kim discussed the attacks in the United States with South Korean officials.
"It is a shocking incident, which we think is very regrettable," he said. "I think the incident will have nothing to do with the South-North talks, which are supposed to handle internal national issues."
Hosting a dinner for the North Korean delegation, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Han-dong said: "Countries of the world must participate in efforts to root out anti-human and anti-civilization terrorism that kills innocent people."
The North's state-run media meanwhile repeated a demand that Washington withdraw 37,000 troops that it keeps in South Korea as a deterrent against the North.
Earlier, South Korea's main opposition party rejected a proposal by President Kim Dae-jung that negotiators from the the two Koreas adopt a joint statement against terrorism because of the recent attacks.
The Grand National Party said North Korea should first apologize for purported terrorist acts against the South, including the 1987 bombing of a Korean Air jet near Myanmar that killed all 115 persons on board.
"If there is no guarantee of changes in North Korea's attitude and policy, the anti-terrorist statement would end up indulging the North," said Kwon Chul-hyon, a party spokesman.
Mr. Kim, the North Korean delegate, said the talks in Seoul would mark a "turning point" in inter-Korean ties.
"Our delegation members want to commit ourselves to do our best to yield excellent results," he said.
Kim Dae-jung flew to Pyongyang last year for an unprecedented summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
The meeting led to a series of conciliatory gestures, including three temporary reunions of relatives who had been separated before or during the Korean War.

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