- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2000

SEOUL North Korean leader Kim Jong-il said he is ready to open ties with the United States as soon as Washington removes his country from a list of nations that sponsor terrorism, South Korea's state Yonhap news agency said yesterday.
"The U.S. is putting a cap of a terrorist nation on us. As soon as they remove it, we would open ties with the U.S. even tomorrow," Mr. Kim was quoted as saying.
He made the comment when he met executives of 46 South Korean media organizations visiting the North last week.
Mr. Kim invited them after the historic June summit with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung in Pyongyang, which provided the best chance yet for peace on the divided Korean Peninsula.
The Koreas were divided into the communist North and the pro-Western South in 1945. Their three-year war in the early 1950s ended in an armistice, not in a peace treaty. They share the world's most heavily armed border.
North Korea was put on the U.S. list of countries supporting terrorism because of its suspected involvement in the bombing of a South Korean airliner in the skies near Burma in 1987. All 115 persons aboard the Korean Air plane died.
The two sides recently held talks on possibly removing the North from the list. The State Department called the Pyongyang meeting "productive" but did not disclose details.
North Korea is one of seven countries branded by the State Department as a sponsor of terrorism. Under U.S. law, this bars all but humanitarian aid to its government and rules out bank loans from international financial organizations, which are heavily influenced by Washington.
Yonhap said Mr. Kim repeated that North Korea will continue to develop what it calls scientific satellites for peaceful purposes despite U.S. pressure.
"The U.S. would not want to give us money, but they want to stop our research. They would be having quite a headache," Mr. Kim was quoted as saying by Yonhap.
North Korea shocked the region by firing a rocket over Japan and into the Pacific in 1998. It said it launched a satellite, but U.S. officials called it a test-firing of a long-range ballistic missile.

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