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The BBC's Angus Roxburgh
"The EU had come with realistic expectations"
 real 56k

Korean specialist Aiden Foster-Carter
"Meeting Kim Jong-il who was such a recluse, man-of-mystery... that has to be useful"
 real 28k

Thursday, 3 May, 2001, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK
N Korea 'maintains missile test ban'
Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson shakes hands with North Korean leader King Jung-il
Mr Persson made history by visiting North Korea
North Korea is to maintain its moratorium on missile testing at least until 2003, Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson has told a news conference.

Mr Persson, the first Western leader to visit North Korea, is in Pyongyang as the head of a European Union delegation holding talks with leader Kim Jong-il.

The Swedish prime minister also said that Mr Kim had expressed a commitment to holding a second summit with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.

The North Korean leader's reported comments were his first on either subject since George W Bush ordered a review of United States Korea policy on taking office.

Honour guard in North Korea
The delegation was welcomed with an honour guard
Mr Persson said he thought North Korea wanted to be "careful about the timing" of a new summit because of the policy review.

North Korea is also reported to have agreed to make arrangements with the EU to begin talks on its human-rights record.

The North Korean news agency KCNA reported that talks took place between Mr Kim and the EU delegation "in a warm and friendly atmosphere", but gave no further details.

The European delegation's visit is designed to demonstrate support for the inter-Korean engagement policy, which began almost a year ago when the two Korean leaders held a historic summit.

That marked a thaw in relations between the two countries, which still remain technically at war.

But the engagement process has come to a virtual standstill, with North Korea cancelling inter-Korean exchanges and signalling its unhappiness at the tougher tone coming out of the Bush administration in the US.

The EU view is that the rapprochement policy represents a unique opportunity to try to end half a century of Cold War rivalry on the Korean peninsula - a process that is too important to let languish.

Famine

Impoverished North Korea, which has struggled to feed its people over the last few years following a series of floods and famine, is expected to ask the EU for food and other aid.

The UN aid agency World Food Programme says North Korea is facing another spring and summer of serious food shortages, with the government-run public distribution system already relying on international aid and alternative foods.

North Korea's most recent harvest was the worst since the depths of famine four years ago. Aid agencies estimate that as many as a million people may have died in recent years as a result of chronic food shortages.

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See also:

24 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea's dramatic turnaround
24 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Korean missile breakthrough
03 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
'Kim Jong-il son' detained in Japan
03 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: North Korea reaches out
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