South Korean President Roh Tae Woo said Thursday that his talks next week with Mikhail S. Gorbachev will be aimed at helping to end hostility on the divided Korean Peninsula.
Roh is scheduled to leave Sunday and meet with the Soviet president in San Francisco on Monday after Gorbachev ends summit talks with President Bush. Afterward, Roh is to meet Bush in Washington on Wednesday, the Yonhap news agency reported.
The Roh-Gorbachev meeting will be the first between leaders of the two nations, which have no diplomatic relations.
The talks come at a time when economic ties between Seoul and Moscow are rapidly increasing. Their two-way trade doubled to $600 million last year and is expected to surpass $1 billion in 1990.
The meeting also represents the culmination of South Korea’s “northern policy,” which is aimed at fostering ties with Communist nations able to influence Communist North Korea. Since that policy went into effect in July, 1988, South Korea has established formal diplomatic relations with every nation in Eastern Europe except Albania and East Germany.
Roh said Thursday that he will try to use the San Francisco talks not only to improve ties with the Soviet Union, but also to open North Korea’s closed society.
The president said he would be trying to make overtures through Gorbachev to officials in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
“Since there is no way opened for me to go to Pyongyang, I have to go there by way of Moscow,” aides quoted Roh as saying.
South Korea and North Korea have been adversaries since the division of the peninsula in 1945, and have remained bitter enemies since the 1950-53 Korean War. The Soviet Union is a close ally and arms provider of North Korea.
Chief presidential spokesman Lee Soo Jung said Roh and Gorbachev will discuss normalizing relations between Seoul and Moscow, trade between the two nations, and peace on the Korean Peninsula.