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Former Korean President Predicts Peace on Peninsula


Former South Korean President Kim says he believes the efforts to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program will be successful and diplomatic ties will eventually be established between the United States and Pyongyang. Mr. Kim made his remarks during a speech in Washington and VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has details.

Mr. Kim told an audience at the National Press Club the six-party talks are gaining momentum and the first phase of an accord reached last February has been successfully implemented.

That disarmament agreement called on North Korea to shutdown its nuclear facilities and give experts from the United States, China and Russia access to the Yongbyon site to examine ways to permanently disable the facility.

Mr. Kim was elected president in 1997 and left office in 2003. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his policy of engaging North Korea after holding an unprecedented summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The former South Korean president says diplomacy to end Pyongyang's nuclear program is working. "I am convinced that the six-party talks will succeed. When I met North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, he earnestly desired to normalize relations with the United States," he said.

The six-party talks began in 2003. They are sponsored by China and include North and South Korea, Russia, Japan and the United States.

The February accord calls for North Korea to disable and declare all of its nuclear holdings, including weapons, in return for energy aid and diplomatic benefits.

Mr. Kim says the success of the dialog means North Korea no longer has a reason to insist on possession of nuclear arms, and the United States can now accept an appropriate solution to the North Korean nuclear issue. "The U.S. no longer needs to be hesitant about resolving the situation since North Korea announced it would abandon its nuclear ambitions completely and would join in the efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he said.

North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950 and an armistice ended the fighting three years later, but in legal terms the two nations remain at war.

Relations improved considerably after Mr. Kim's summit, but North Korea has since declared itself a nuclear-weapons state and conducted a nuclear test last October.

Mr. Kim says the February agreement and continuing six-party talks will lead to what he called a glimmer of peace on the Korean Peninsula. "The formal end to the Korean War will be declared and diplomatic ties between the U.S. and North Korea will be established. In addition, a peace treaty will be signed among related parties," he said.

Mr. Kim was the architect of what became known as the sunshine policy of engaging North Korea.

The former South Korean president says he believes the negotiations concerning North Korea's nuclear program can be successfully concluded before President Bush leaves office.

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