- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 7, 2002

SEOUL North Korea has agreed to resume talks with the United States and revive reconciliation efforts with rival South Korea after months of increasing tension on the world's last Cold War frontier, a South Korean envoy said yesterday.
Pyongyang's decision to resume talks comes as a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea is visiting North Korea.
Don Gregg, who served in Seoul as ambassador during the first Bush administration, is an advocate of U.S. dialogue with the North. The State Department said yesterday he was there in a private capacity and was not carrying an official message.
Pyongyang officials, however, did not respond positively when the South Korean envoy urged North Korea to open its suspected nuclear weapons program to outside inspections.
The two Koreas "have agreed to restore to normal South-North relations that have temporarily been frozen," the envoy, Lim Dong-won, said in a nationally televised news conference in Seoul after returning from a four-day trip to the communist North.
Mr. Lim also said the reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-iI "has expressed willingness to open dialogue with the United States and will accept a U.S. envoy's visit to the North."
Until now, North Korea had balked at Washington's offer to restart talks, and tense relations deteriorated further after President Bush labeled the North Korea part of "an axis of evil" countries that seek to develop weapons of mass destruction.
"We're aware of reports that there are indications North Korea may be moving toward dialogue with the United States," State Department spokeswoman Brenda Greenberg said in Washington yesterday. "We look forward to getting a fuller readout from the South Koreans."
The North Korean leader said he would accept a proposed visit by Jack Pritchard, a U.S. special envoy who met North Korean diplomats in the United States last month, Mr. Lim said, and the two sides will set the date of the visit.
Mr. Lim also said he understood that Mr. Gregg had arrived in North Korea on a private visit. He has been a strong advocate of North Korean-U.S. dialogue.
After suspending talks with North Korea pending a policy review when he took office, Mr. Bush offered last June to resume dialogue with the North to discuss its suspected nuclear weapons program, missile development and massive military deployment near the border with South Korea.

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