South Korea's Unification Ministry says President Lee Myung-bak has
agreed to meet Sunday with senior North Korean officials who traveled
to Seoul to mourn the late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.
news agency reports the visitors from Pyongyang said they have a
message for President Lee from their leader, Kim Jong Il.
unification minister, Hyun In-taek, met on Saturday with his
counterpart from the North Korean delegation, Kim Yang Gon.
six officials from Pyongyang are extending their stay in Seoul by a day
for the meeting with President Lee, which they requested.
North Koreans arrived in Seoul Friday to pay their respects to the
family of Mr. Kim, who worked to improve relations between the two
Koreas. The Nobel Peace Prize winner died Tuesday.
Koreans' condolence visit was a first in the two states' relations, as
well as the first time in nearly two years that officials from the
communist north have traveled to South Korea.
The meeting on
Sunday could ease tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang, which have been
at odds since President Lee took over a year and a half ago. Unlike
the late President Kim, Mr. Lee insisted that North Korea must
demonstrate verifiable progress toward nuclear disarmament in return
for continued aid from the south.
On Friday, the visiting
North Koreans bowed their heads and laid a wreath in front of a large
portrait of Mr. Kim in South Korea's parliament building.
Kim was revered by many on both sides of the Korean peninsula for his
efforts to reconcile the two states, which included a landmark summit
with North Korea's Kim Jong Il in 2000. Some South Koreans opposed
opening up relations with North Korea, however, because of North
Korea's massive human-rights violations and Pyongyang's notorious
efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.