The United States today relaxed trade, travel and diplomatic restrictions against North Korea to support South Korean efforts at easing tensions on the peninsula.
State Department spokesman Charles Redman said the United States will encourage unofficial non-governmental visits from North Korea in academics, sports, culture and other areas.
Redman also said financial regulations are being revised to permit group travel by Americans on a case-by-case basis. American diplomats will be allowed substantive contact with North Korean diplomats for the first time in almost a year, he said.
In addition, the spokesman said, commercial exports of humanitarian goods to North Korea will be allowed on a limited basis. Currently, humanitarian items must be donated.
Redman stressed that general commercial trade will still be illegal and that North Korea "remains on our list of states which support or are engaged in international terrorism.
"Its behavior in this area is something we will continue to scrutinize closely," he said.
The moves are a complement to efforts by South Korean President Roh Tae Woo, who has called for a North-South summit meeting and a resumption of trade between the two Koreas as part of an attempt to ease tensions.
Roh met with President Reagan 10 days ago and suggested the United States act in coordination with South Korea's own moves.
North Korea is one of the few countries in the world with which the United States has no diplomatic relations, and it has been the target of a highly restrictive U.S. trade embargo.