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Indonesian Leader Briefs South Korea on Her Visit to North Korea - 2002-03-30

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri says North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has responded positively to a South Korean offer to resume stalled talks. Ms. Megawati made the comment in Seoul where she briefed South Korean leaders on her visit to Pyongyang.

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri told reporters in Seoul that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il responded positively to the appeal she made that peace talks with South Korea resume. But she did not elaborate.

Ms. Megawati delivered a message to Kim Jong Il Friday at the request of South Korea. She is in Seoul to brief officials on her meeting.

Indonesia has no formal role as mediator between the two Koreas. But many observers have had high hopes for the meeting between Ms. Megawati and Mr. Kim. The two leaders first met decades ago when their fathers, then heads of state, founded the Non-Aligned movement at the height of the Cold War.

The Korean Peninsula has been divided for more than 50 years. Hopes for eventual reunification were sparked when Kim Jong Il and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung met for the first time in June 2000 and agreed to improve ties.

Those efforts have since stalled in part due to the fact that South Korea's main ally, the United States, has been increasingly critical of Pyongyang for working to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Pyongyang has refused U.S. offers to revive dialogue on North Korea's nuclear weapons program as well as the U.S. military alliance with South Korea, which the North sees as a major threat. It is not clear if the Indonesian president also broached the subject of new talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

Right before Ms. Megawati left for Pyongyang earlier this week, South Korea announced it would send a special envoy to the North on April 3 to discuss resuming contacts, which have been frozen for more than four months.