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    » 10/01/2007, 00.00

    KOREA

    South Korean president to cross northern border with North on foot



    The symbolic gesture will start Roh Moo-hyun’s visit. South Korean leader will meet his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-il, at least five times. His presence at the controversial ‘Arirang’ show causes anger, opposition calls it one of Pyongyang’s preferred tools of torture.

    Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has decided to cross the demarcation line that divides the Korean peninsula on foot “to serve as an historic occasion,” his press office announced, raising doubts about how the second intra-Korean summit in 60 years will be organised. According to Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung, the “president and his entourage crossing the MDL on foot will be an historic and impressive moment [. . .] to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

    Roh and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il are expected to meet at least five times in formal meetings during the summit.

    The summit should start with Mr Roh attending an official welcoming ceremony in Pyongyang hosted by Supreme People’s Assembly President Kim Yong-nam. The key moment will take place on Wednesday when the two Korean leaders meet, with only a few key aides present.

    Afterwards, Roh is to watch North Korea’s mass gymnastics propaganda performance “Arirang.”

    His decision to attend the controversial event has provoked an irate reaction in the South where the opposition attacked the president for taking part what it considers one of Kim Jong-il’s favourite tools of torture, saying that it is like having a South Korean delegation attend the event is like visiting a concentration camp.

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    See also

    14/08/2007 NORTH KOREA – SOUTH KOREA
    Hopes and doubts ahead of intra-Korean summit
    Pyongyang starts preliminary talks with Seoul in preparation for late August historic summit. But in South Korea there are doubts as well as hopes. At issue are the summit’s location, timing and agenda.

    09/05/2007 KOREAS
    Peace is ultimately something for North and South to decide, says Seoul in rebuttal to US
    South Korean Unification Minister replies to statement by US ambassador in Seoul who said that reunification of the peninsula required international mediation. US analysts not surprised by reaction.

    10/05/2007 KOREAS
    After 50 years Seoul and Pyongyang agree on rail link
    The two Koreas agree to reopen trans-border rail tracks. South Korea hopes the new railway line will be linked to the Trans-Siberian railway, connecting the peninsula to Europe.

    06/10/2007 KOREA
    Intra-Korean summit raises hopes but also anxieties
    The joint declaration by the two Korean leaders stresses security, prosperity, dialogue and peace. The South makes a lot of concessions in the area of economic development, but fails to get the North to accept disarmament further along the demilitarised zone.

    03/10/2007 KOREA
    Roh and Kim are all smiles, but little is expected from talks
    Atmosphere is cordial but no one expects much from the first meetings in terms of results. The United States issues a statement about the upcoming six-nation talks which should mark the end to Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.



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