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New York Philharmonic Orchestra Arrives in North Korea


The New York Philharmonic Orchestra has arrived in North Korea on a historic trip as the most prominent American cultural institution to visit the isolated country.

Speaking to reporters Monday, after arriving at Pyongyang airport, the Philharmonic's musical director Lorin Maazel expressed his hope that the trip would improve ties between the United States and North Korea.

Maazel said he is a musician, and not a politician, but if the music moves its audience, the Philharmonic will have done what it can to bring the people of the two countries closer.

The Philharmonic's concert on Tuesday will be broadcast internationally and live on North Korea's state-run TV and radio, where events are usually carefully produced to enhance the image of leader Kim Jong Il.

The concert will include performances of Antonin Dvorak's symphony No. 9 and George Gershwin's "An American in Paris."

It is unclear whether Kim Jong Il will attend the concert, which comes as the United States and other countries in the six-party talks are struggling to end the North's nuclear weapons program.

Last year, North Korea agreed to end its nuclear weapons program in exchange for economic aid, but implementation of the agreement is behind schedule.

Pyongyang was supposed to to declare all of its nuclear programs by December 31 of last year, but has yet to do so. The North complains of delays in the delivery of promised fuel oil.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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