- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2000

NEW YORK North Korea took another step away from international isolation yesterday, joining rival South Korea to cosponsor their first joint resolution to encourage further peace efforts on the divided peninsula.

The resolution, drafted by diplomats from the North and South in recent months, praises the breakthrough June summit by leaders of both nations and encourages both to implement an agreement to reunite divided families and work toward eventual reunification.

The measure, sponsored by 157 nations including the United States, Russia, China and Japan, was approved yesterday by acclimation.

The resolution was largely symbolic, but South Korean Ambassador Sun Joun-yung compared the discussion in the U.N. chamber yesterday morning in historical significance to events in 1953 when the Korean War drew to a close.

The resolution said the Assembly "welcomes and supports the inter-Korean summit and the joint declaration adopted on June 15, 2000, by the two leaders of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [North Korea] and the Republic of Korea [South Korea]."

The resolution came amid a new series of initiatives by North Korea, including talks with longtime enemies Japan and the United States.

Representatives from North Korea will meet with U.S. negotiators in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, beginning today to discuss restraints on North Korea's missile program in exchange for the United States providing rockets to launch North Korean satellites into space.

The fast pace of rapprochement between Washington and Pyongyang, underscored by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright's two-day visit to North Korea last week, has prompted concerns on Capitol Hill.

Republican lawmakers last week sent a letter to President Clinton urging him to slow down the rapprochement until questions about Pyongyang's sponsorship of terrorism are resolved.

In another diplomatic effort, Japanese and North Korean officials met in Beijing yesterday, and both sides expressed satisfaction and relief that the talks, stalled eight years ago, had resumed.

Japanese officials confirmed that the talks touched on security issues, such as North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

Meeting at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, chief North Korean negotiator Jong Thae-hwa and his Japanese counterpart, Kojiro Takano, agreed that progress has been made but that much hard work lies ahead.

The Japanese media have reported that substantial economic investment and humanitarian aid were also on offer, a fact that the government has not disputed.

The northern half of the Korean Peninsula has been ravaged by flood, draught and famine, and humanitarian efforts have been stymied by the government's suspicion of foreigners and lack of diplomatic ties.

The June summit between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has set off a flurry of activity by Pyongyang, which in recent months has moved to establish diplomatic ties with dozens of nations.

Yesterday, North Korea's official news agency hailed the U.N. resolution.

"The consensus adoption of the resolution reflects the present positive developments of the Korean peninsula resulted by the idea of national independence," Pyongyang said.

South Korea's ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Sun, called the new level of cooperation historic.

"This is a new and fresh start toward genuine peace on the Korean Peninsula," Mr. Sun told reporters yesterday.

Asked why his North Korean counterpart, Ambassador Li Yongo-choi, was not also at the press conference, Mr. Sun replied: "There were some things that could not be agreed to."

Mr. Sun also said that he did not expect the United Nations to become directly engaged in ongoing North-South discussions.

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