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North Korea seeks visit by Bush: report

AFP | September 23 2005

North Korea is seeking a visit from US President George W. Bush or other prominent US figures in an effort to improve ties between the two countries, a news report said Friday.

Leader Kim Jong-Il personally mentioned the names of Bush, his father, the former president George Bush, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as US figures who would be welcomed in North Korea, Yonhap news agency said quoting unidentified South Korean intelligence source.

"North Korea seems to seek visits by incumbent or former US presidents, or the current secretary of state, in order to pursue normalization of ties and resolve the nuclear dispute," the source was quoted as saying.

That would apparently rule out US assistant secretary of state Christopher Hill, Washington's top negotiator with North Korea, who wants to go to Pyongyang before a new round of six-party talks in November, according to South Korean officials.

The last round of talks in Beijing ended earlier this week with North Korea agreeing to a statement of principles on abandoning its atomic weapons in return for energy and security guarantees.

But the Stalinist nation said the next day that it would not dismantle its nuclear weapons until the United States delivered light-water reactors to allow it to generate power.

Washington says the reactors would be discussed only after North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons in a verifiable manner.

At the height of the first nuclear crisis in 1994, former US president Jimmy Cater went to Pyongyang and held talks with then president, Kim Il-Sung. The meeting helped to resolve the standoff.

In 2000, Pyongyang and Washington exchanged visits by then US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Jo Myong-Rok, vice chairman of the North's National Defense Commission.

These visits almost led to what would have been a landmark trip to the isolated communist state by a sitting US president.

But then president Bill Clinton was reportedly too busy because of urgent peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians

 

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