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Seoul Dispatches Diplomats to Boost Reconciliation with North - 2002-03-28


South Korea's foreign minister is meeting Chinese officials Thursday and Friday to discuss reviving stalled reconciliation efforts between Seoul and Pyongyang. The visit to North Korea's main ally is part of a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at cooling tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Zhang Qiyue of China's Foreign Ministry said the visit by South Korean Foreign Minister Choi Sung-hong to Beijing may help get Seoul and Pyongyang talking again. She made it clear that Beijing supports any action that brings peace and stability to the troubled Korean Peninsula, and that getting the two sides to resume direct talks is particularly important.

Ms. Zhang also applauded South Korea's plan to send a special presidential envoy to the North in the hope of restarting stalled talks between the two sides.

South Korea is dispatching still another top diplomat to another North Korean ally, Russia, for talks on inter-Korean issues. Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri is also visiting the capitals of North and South Korea, in attempt to boost reconciliation efforts.

Chinese officials say other nations can help, but only the two Koreas can really solve the problems that have kept the Korean people divided for half a century.

Hopes for the eventual reconciliation of North and South Korea rose in June 2000 when South Korean President Kim Dae-jung made an unprecedented visit to North Korea. The visit sparked a series of talks and joint projects aimed at the eventual reunification of the two sides. But efforts stalled over the past year, when Pyongyang accused South Korea's key ally, the United States of taking a more hostile stand toward the North.

North and South Korea fought a bloody war that ended in 1953 with an armed truce rather than a peace treaty. Communist China and the Soviet Union supported the Communist North while the United States helped the market-oriented South.

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