North Korean Leader Personally Greets South Korean President



South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun received a personal, and unscheduled, greeting from North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in the North Korean capital. VOA's Kurt Achin in Seoul has more on the start of their summit meeting.

North Koreans erupt into coordinated cheers as their leader, Kim Jong Il, greeted South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun with a handshake Tuesday at a Pyongyang landmark.

South Korean authorities earlier had said that a personal welcome from Mr. Kim was not planned. South Korean reporters covering the summit learned of the change only about an hour before it took place.

The two leaders walked a red carpet in front of North Korean military officers and civilians waving flowers.

About two hours earlier, President Roh and his wife left their car to cross the border between the two countries by foot.

Mr. Roh said his footsteps would set a precedent. He says more people will one day cross the border, just as he is doing, and the wall between North and South will fall.

Kim Jong Il's greeting of President Roh Tuesday was far more businesslike than in 2000, when he warmly embraced then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.

The two Koreas remain technically at war, 57 years after North Korea invaded the South. A 1953 armistice halted three years of fighting.

President Roh says seeking a more permanent peace mechanism for the Korean peninsula is his primary reason for this week's summit. He has said he does not expect to spend much time discussing international efforts to persuade North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons programs.

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