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Asia-Pacific
N Korea officials visit South Korea
Team visits Seoul to pay respects to former president, but will not attend funeral.
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2009 10:13 GMT

Kim Ki-nam, left and Kim Yang-gon, right, two senior North Korean officials, visited South Korea [Reuters]

A high-level North Korean delegation has arrived in South Korea to join in the national mourning of Kim Dae-jung, the former president.

The team of six, including two senior officials, arrived by
special plane at Seoul's Gimpo airport on Friday.

They were due to visit a mourning altar for Kim at parliament.

Kim Dae-jung held the first inter-Korean summit in 2000 during his 1998-2003 presidency.

He also initiated a "Sunshine" aid and engagement policy with the North which improved relations between the two neighbours.

Kim met Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, in Pyongyang in 2000 for the first-ever summit between the countries.

Kim Jong-il, whose ties with the current Seoul government are frosty, sent condolences after Kim Dae-jung died on Tuesday.

The visit provides an opportunity for dialogue with Seoul's conservative government, which angered Pyongyang last year by ending the "Sunshine" era and linking economic aid to nuclear disarmament.

No talks

Kim Dae-jung died on Tuesday aged 85[Reuters]
But South Korea's unification ministry said on Friday that the North had not asked for any meeting and "as of now" there was no plan for one.

The North's official news agency also said the delegation would visit the South from Friday to Saturday - indicating it had chosen not to be present at Sunday's funeral which Lee Myung-bak, the president, is expected to attend.

Officials in Seoul welcomed the North's decision to ease curbs on border crossings and on the number of South Koreans staying at a joint industrial estate in North Korea, but urged the North not to repeat unilateral actions which may damage relations.

Cross-border and regional tensions rose sharply in recent months after the North made threatening gestures to the South, fired a series of missiles and staged a second nuclear test which resulted in tougher United Nations sanctions.

Source:
Agencies
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