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South Korean Peace Laureate Says North Must End Nuclear Programs

Marking the anniversary of his watershed summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung has called for an end to the North's nuclear weapons programs. Mr. Kim, who is hosting Nobel Peace laureates like himself from around the world, is expected to make a second visit to Pyongyang later this month.

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who says Kim Jong Il promised him six years ago that there would be no more war on the Korean peninsula, stressed that the issue of the North's nuclear weapons must be resolved.

Mr. Kim says the North must give up its nuclear weapons, and the United States must provide Pyongyang with security assurances and end economic sanctions on Pyongyang. Because the two sides do not trust each other, Mr. Kim says each country must act simultaneously.

He made the comments at a gathering of 15 of his fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates Friday morning in the South Korean city of Gwangju. The gathering is part of events marking the anniversary of Mr. Kim's historic summit with the North Korean leader on June 15, 2000.

The summit was the only meeting ever between leaders of the communist North and the capitalist South. The two countries remain technically at war after an armistice halted fighting between them in 1953.

Mr. Kim added that talks with South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States are the best way to resolve the nuclear issue, because it provides a stable security framework for the entire region. The five partners have tried for three years to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions in exchange for diplomatic and economic benefits.

The summit anniversary is partially overshadowed by concerns that North Korea may be preparing to test a long-range missile. Pyongyang says it already has nuclear weapons, in violation of several past agreements to remain nuclear free.

North Korea says it fears for its security from the United States, even though Washington has said it has no intention to invade. Pyongyang refuses to return to the six-party talks unless the U.S. drops financial sanctions imposed to fight North Korean money laundering and counterfeiting.

The 2000 summit is credited as the starting point for a significant warming in inter-Korean relations, leading to enhanced social and economic contacts.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun also addressed Friday's anniversary gathering. He says despite the stalled nuclear talks, North-South relations are making more stable progress than ever before.