06/19/2006, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA – NORTH KOREA

President Roh backs Kim Dae-jung's visit to Pyongyang

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young
The proposal is made during celebrations of the historic 2000 visit. Concerns are raised about an expected North Korean missile test launch.

Gwangju (AsiaNews) – South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said he was in favour of a visit by his predecessor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kim Dae-jung, to Pyongyang, which is scheduled to take place this month.

For Roh, who was in Gwangju to open the celebrations of the 6th anniversary of the historic Kim, the Koreas have had many problems between them but cannot ignore the main path towards reconciliation. Former President Kim's visit to the North would be an additional contribution to the relations between the two states.

More than 700 guests attended the celebrations of the historic 2000 meeting, among them: former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung himself as well as former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

In the last few days Mr Kim's suggested visit the Communist North this month was on everybody's lips. The 2000 summit was the first since the end of the 1950-1953 Korean conflict. Technically, the two sides are still at war since no peace treaty has been signed. But for Kim the division of the Korean peninsula is a legacy of the Cold War between the two superpowers.

The two day-celebrations of the 2000 summit began on Saturday with a press conference in which everyone was urged to work to reduce tensions and favour peace and democracy in the world.

Meanwhile, concerns are growing that Pyongyang is planning to test a ballistic missile that might reach the United States. Satellite photos show launch preparations at the Musudan-ri facility in North Hamgyong province in North Korea's northeast.

Former Soviet President Gorbachev has called on North Korea to give up its nuclear programme, which is condition for the United States not to intervene against the country.

Tokyo, said Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, would take "stern" actions if Pyongyang launches a ballistic missile.

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