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North Koreans Make Historic Visit to South Korea's Parliament

A high-level North Korean delegation has visited South Korea's National Assembly for the first time. The ground-breaking visit came as North and South staged elaborate joint festivities to mark the end of Japanese colonial rule 60 years ago.

Several high-ranking North Korean officials joined the brief meeting with South Korean lawmakers Tuesday. The North Korean delegation included Kim Ki Nam, second in charge of Pyongyang's policy toward the South.

Earlier, Mr. Kim said he believed everyone, in both North and South Korea, hopes to live in a peaceful and unified nation.

He said all Koreans should dedicate themselves to improving relations between North and South.

The parliament meeting comes during a recess in the six-party North Korean nuclear disarmament talks.

Those negotiations, which include the United States, North and South Korea, China, Russia and Japan, are focused on persuading North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang's insistence on retaining the right to a peaceful nuclear energy policy has been cited as one of the major reasons the talks are deadlocked. Seoul is reportedly backing Pyongyang's demand, despite strong opposition from Washington.

Nearly 200 North Koreans are in Seoul to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of Japanese colonial rule on the Korean peninsula. Despite that shared legacy, the two Koreas went to war in the early 1950s, and are still technically at war after the conflict ended in stalemate in 1953.

Tuesday's meeting was one in a series of conciliatory gestures between North and South Korea this week. Later in the day, a delegation of Northerners visited former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who is in the hospital suffering from pneumonia.

Kim Dae-jung's visit to Pyongyang in 2000 was a high-water mark in the slow process of reconciliation between the two opposing nations, and the Northerners reportedly delivered a get-well message from North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Monday, the two governments set up video conference calls reuniting families separated since the war. For many of those taking part in the video calls, it was the first time they had seen their relatives in more than 50 years.

An elderly South Korean women tells her sister in Pyongyang that their father has passed away. Before he died, she says, he always prayed for news from his daughter in the North.

The calls were carried live on South Korean television, and millions watched the tearful reunions.

More than 10,000 estranged families have had face-to-face meetings in the past five years. In South Korea, nearly 100,000 more have joined a waiting list to see relatives in the North, many not expected to live too much longer.

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