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Seoul Considers Hosting North Korean Envoys for Ex-President's Funeral


South Korea's government says it is considering whether to allow several North Korean envoys to visit the South for the funeral of former President Kim Dae-jung.

A former aide to Mr. Kim said Wednesday North Korean leader Kim Jong il wants to send five officials to attend the funeral, including a secretary of North Korea's ruling party.

The aide Park Jie-won says North Korean leader Kim also expressed condolences over Mr. Kim's death in a letter to the former president's peace organization.

Kim Dae-jung died Tuesday in a Seoul hospital at the age of 85 after suffering pneumonia.

Kim Jong il and Kim Dae-jung met in Pyongyang in 2000, the first inter-Korean summit since the 1953 armistice that ended fighting during the Korean War.

North Korean state-run media quoted Mr. Kim Wednesday as saying the Korean nation will long remember feats performed by Kim Dae-jung to work toward national reconciliation and reunification.

South Korea plans to hold a rare state funeral for Mr. Kim outside parliament in Seoul. The date has not been announced.

A visit to South Korea by North Korean envoys would also be rare. Analysts say such a visit could present an opportunity for dialogue between the two Koreas, which remain technically in a state of war.

Relations improved under Kim Dae-jung and his successor Roh Moo-hyun, but worsened after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office last year. Mr. Lee has taken a tougher stance toward North Korea's nuclear program and cut off aid to the impoverished state.

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

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