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Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/08/12 : CIA-RDP05T02051R000200350029-0 

WASHINGTON POST n , Tr 7 / 

NEW YORK TIMES lwrE - 

WALL STREET JOURNAL 
WASHINGTON TIMES 


USA T0DAY_ 


STAT 


Hope Seen for Talks 
Between the Koreas, 
Though Not Rapidly 


SEOUL, South Korea (Reuter) -Over- 
ture's by parliamentarians may be inching 
the two Koreas toward a renewed political 
dialogue, but analysts caution against 
hopes of rapid progress. 

Leaders of South Korea’s main parties' 
agreed Friday to accept a North Korean 
proposal for talks aimed at reducing ten- 
sions on the divided peninsula, promising a 
formal answer in the next few days. 

The news sparked the biggest stock 
market rise in Seoul this year, but diplo- 
matic and political analysts reserved judg- 
ment. • 

“Even if both sides are sincere about 
holding talks, it will still at best take a lot 
of time and effort,” one Seoul-based diplo- 
mat said. “I don’t expect anything con- 
crete until after the Seoul Olympics,” 
scheduled to end Oct. 2. 

The opposition-controlled National As- 
sembly had just received a response of 
sorts to a July 1 letter urging North Korea 
to abandon its boycott and send athletes to 
the Games, which are to open Sept. 17. 
This was to be a first step toward eventual 
national reconciliation. 

The North Korean message, given 
Thursday at the border village of Panmun- 
jom, sidestepped the Olympics invitation. 
Instead, it called for parliamentarians 
from both sides to meet before the Games 
and discuss a nonaggression pact. 

In the oblique world of inter-Korean re- 
lations, this didn’t seem to faze Seoul at 
all. 

While various party leaders gave a 
qualified welcome to the offer, the govern- 
ment, following up President Roh Tae 
Woo’s July 7 offer of better relations with 
Pyongyang, let it be known it favored re- 
opening dialogue. 

'‘It is up to the National Assembly to 
decide, but we think it is desirable to act 
positively and accept the proposal in view 
of the international conditions,” Unifica- 
tion Minister Lee Hong Koo told parlia- 
ment. 

Mr. Lee expressed reservations on only 
one item in Pyongyang’s seven-point draft 
nonaggression pact. 

■ fie said careful study must be given to 


a section calling for ’’phased and drastic | 
reduction of armed forces” on both sides, ' 
and simultaneous measures to arrange the 
“stage-by-stage withdrawal of foreign 
forces and nuclear weapons present in the 
r Korean peninsula.” 

About 41,000 U.S. soldiers are based in 
South Korea under a defense treaty. Both 
Washington and Seoul decline to confirm 
or deny whether nuclear arms are de- 
ployed in South Korea. 

If political talks were to resume, the 
contacts would be the first between the two 
sides since late 1985. North Korea banned 
further parliamentary, trade and Red 
Cross discussions the following year, to 
protest joint maneuvers staged by U.S. and 
South Korean forces. 

Diplomatic and political analysts said 
North Korea’s apparent willingness to en- 
gage in dialogue stemmed from its neied to 
save face following Mr. Roh’s offer to end 
decades of confrontation and open the bor- 
der to human exchanges. 

“North Korea really is unsure what to 
make of the Roh initiative, which caught it 
rather off balance,” one Pacific Rim diplo- 
mat said. “Despite its initial rejection, 
there is an element of uncertainty.” 

Pyongyang couldn’t legitimize the Seoul ' 
government by dealing directly with it, he ’ 
added. But dealing with an opposition-con- 
trolled legislature-Mr. Roh’s party lost its 
majority in the April elections- made con- 
tacts thinkable. 

Though the Seoul party leaders signaled 
basic acceptance of parliamentary talks, 

. notes of caution were quickly sounded in 
official circles here. 

The Yonhap news agency quoted a se- 
nior government official, as saying Seoul 
would seek preliminary discussions, rather 
. than an immediate parliamentary confer- 
ence, to decide procedural matters. 

The unidentified official said Pyong- 
yang also had sent a letter to the U.S. Con- 
gress, adding that he believed North Korea 
could be trying to revive its old idea of a 
tripartite conference, including the U.S., 
on the peninsula’s future. 

North Korea wants to negotiate directly 
with Washington on the pullout of U.S. 
forces and weaponry from South Korea, 
while Seoul insists it alone will talk to 
Pyongyang. 

The tone of its letter, dispatched Thurs- 
day, suggested that North Korea, with its 
hopes of co-hosting the Olympics dashed, 
now was determined not to attend the 
event in Seoul. 

The Games’ chief organizer, Park Seh 
Jik, told foreign reporters Friday that even 
at this late hour, Seoul hoped Pyongyang 
would respond to its invitation and send 
athletes to the Games. 


Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/08/12 : CIA-RDP05T02051R000200350029-0