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Nobel Laureates Urge Give and Take Between US, North Korea

  • Kurt Achin

Past winners of the Nobel Peace Prize have come together in South Korea to call for peace on the Korean Peninsula and a resolution of the dispute over North Korea's nuclear weapons production. Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who hosted the gathering, says North Korea must return to talks aimed at disarmament - while the United States must make some compromises as well.

Former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, who won the prestigious peace prize in 2000, said Saturday that the international community - especially North Korea and the United States - must work harder to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs.

Mr. Kim calls for engagement between North Korea and the United States, and says it is crucial for Pyongyang to return to international talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs.

Mr. Kim made his comments at the close of a gathering of Nobel Peace Laureates that he hosted this week in the South Korean city of Gwangju, on the sixth anniversary of his historic 2000 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Kim Dae-jung is scheduled to make a follow-up visit to the North this month. He says he will carry with him a copy of a joint declaration drafted by the Nobel laureates, and present it to senior North Korean leaders.

Wangari Mutha Maatai, a 2004 Nobel Peace laureate from Kenya, read the declaration aloud Saturday. It included a plea for mutual concessions by the U.S. and North Korea, which is also known by its official initials, the DPRK.

"We expect that the DPRK will completely abandon its nuclear weapons policy and accept international inspections," she said. "We also call for the U.S. to end financial and economic sanctions on the DPRK and offer security guarantees."

In September, North Korea concluded talks with South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan, by pledging in principle to get rid of its nuclear programs. However, Pyongyang has refused to return to talks on implementing that pledge until the U.S. ends sanctions that Washington says are needed to counter North Korean counterfeiting and money-laundering.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, also a participant at this week's Nobel summit, says the Gwangju declaration will be passed to all of the participating nations in the six-party nuclear talks.

Mr. Gorbachev wishes Kim Dae-jung the best of success in his North Korea visit. He says he believes the two Koreas can achieve peace, because they are the masters of their own fate.

While the Nobel laureates spoke of North Korea and peace, reports were reaching a crescendo in South Korea, Japan and the United States that the North may be about to test a long-range ballistic missile.

Official comments and news reports described activity at a North Korean missile site that indicated a test launch of a Taepodong-2 missile, which could possibly reach the United States, may be imminent.

South Korean and U.S. officials have expressed concern about the possible test, which would break a seven-year moratorium on long-range testing that Pyongyang imposed on itself.

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