06/17/2005, 00.00
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"Dear leader" meets South Korean envoy

Seoul calls the meeting totally unexpected. Analysts view it as breather inhe nuclear stand-off.

Pyongyang (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Kim Jong-il, North Korea's "Dear leader", met today South Korea's Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, who is visiting the North for the fifth anniversary of the only summit between two Korean leaders.

Many in international community see the event as "an opening to dialogue" on the part of the Communist leader. In Seoul, the meeting came totally unexpected.

Some sources said that Kim himself phoned the Unification Minister to invite him to an "informal lunch, to see past acquaintances".

The Communist leader rarely meets foreign political leaders and the "informal lunch" might be an opportunity to give a message to South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

Mr Roh is Kim's best interlocutor—he has resisted US pressures to cut off humanitarian aid to the North and has several times called on the parties to the nuclear crisis to stay calm.

In a meeting with the US President on June 13, the South Korean President said he "very sure" the six-party nuclear talks would resume.

International political analysts view the latest meeting as a breather in the nuclear stand-off caused by North Korea's refusal to come back to the talks on its own nuclear disarmament.

Pyongyang has always blamed the "hostile and imperialistic" policy of the United States for not disarming. In turn, the United States has cut off its humanitarian aid to the North and warned the Communist regime that "a policy hostile to the United States would only be a bad idea".

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