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The BBC's Jon Leyne
"Between the two countries is a gulf of mistrust"
 real 56k

Friday, 27 July, 2001, 08:52 GMT 09:52 UK
Powell backs 'sunshine policy'
Colin Powell arriving at Seoul's military airport
South Korea is looking for reassurances from the US
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has arrived in South Korea for talks on policy towards communist North Korea and on reviving talks between North and South.

Mr Powell said the US was prepared to hold talks with North Korea "any time and any place" and have an open agenda.

South Korean activists, watched by riot police, shout anti-US slogans in a sit-down protest
Protesters chanted slogans against missile defence
And he said the US supported South Korea's "sunshine policy" on improving relations with the North.

Correspondents say there are fears in South Korea that the Bush administration's harder line towards North Korea could jeopardise the policy.

Last month, US President George W Bush ordered his national security team to resume talks with North Korea that were begun under President Bill Clinton.

Earlier in the year he had angered North Korea by ordering a review of policy towards Pyongyang. It led to North Korea cutting all official contacts with South Korea and stalling a reconciliation process that began last year with a historic summit.

Missile programme

The US wants to talk to North Korea about its missile programme and armed forces. Concerns over North Korea have been cited by the Bush administration as one of the main reasons the US needs to build a controversial new missile defence system.

However, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has accused the United States of seeking global domination with its opposition to Pyongyang's missile programme.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-Il: US fears "groundless"
In an interview with the Russian Itar-Tass news agency, Mr Kim said America's fear of a missile threat from "rogue states" were groundless.

Mr Powell was met at Seoul's military airport on Friday afternoon by a small group of protesters chanting their opposition to Washington's planned missile defence system.

He was due to meet President Kim Dae-Jung, Foreign Minister Han Seung Soo and Unification Minister Lim Dong-Won before leaving for Beijing early on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Mr Kim is expected to arrive in Moscow on 4 August, after a long train journey, for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

South Korean officials are hoping the visit to Russia might be part of preparations for Mr Kim to visit South Korea. Following last year's summit in Pyongyang, the North Korean leader promised to make a return trip to South Korea, but no date has been set.

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See also:

08 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Seoul's fears over Bush
08 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Bush rules out North Korea talks
22 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea threatens end to missile deal
17 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
S Korea extends missile range
23 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Pyongyang reaches out
13 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kim Dae-jung: Korean peacemaker
15 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Summer months melt Korean ice
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