S. Korea Envoys to Head North for Nuclear Talks

From Associated Press

South Korea will send an advisor of departing President Kim Dae Jung and an envoy of President-elect Roh Moo Hyun to North Korea on Monday to discuss the dispute over Pyongyang's nuclear development, the two nations announced today.

Lim Dong Won, who is a special advisor to Kim and is a former unification minister, will be accompanied by Roh's representative, Lee Jong Suk, a North Korean affairs expert from the Sejong Institute, an independent research center.

Roh will take office next month.

Park Sun Sook, a spokeswoman for the presidential Blue House, said South Korea had consulted with allies about the dispatch of the envoys. She said they will travel to North Korea on a special plane and stay there two or three days.

Park also said the envoys were expected to carry a personal letter from Kim. North Korea announced the envoys' visit at the same time through KCNA, the state-run news agency.

The visit is part of South Korea's efforts to seek a negotiated end to the standoff with North Korea over its suspected nuclear weapons development and recent moves to restart its old nuclear facilities.

Earlier today after Cabinet-level talks in Seoul, North Korea agreed to work peacefully with South Korea to resolve the standoff, but the South acknowledged that the agreement fell short of commitments it sought.

"Although we have not been able to draw out a more progressive position on North Korea's nuclear issue, we have sufficiently delivered our and the international community's concern on the nuclear issue," the South's statement said.

"Due to the lack of time, we could not achieve sufficiently satisfying results," said the chief South Korean delegate, Unification Minister Jeong Se Hyun.

Still, the joint statement was a triumph for South Korea. The North has been saying it would discuss the matter only with the United States.

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