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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 07:31 GMT
N Korea pressed to resume dialogue
North Korea
There is a sense of expectation in the capital
Indonesia's President Megawati Sukarnoputri has arrived in North Korea, as diplomatic moves continue to get the reclusive state to resume talks with the outside world.

Megawati, daughter of Indonesia's founding President Sukarno, will meet Kim Jong-il, son of North Korea's founder, Kim Il-sung.

She is expected to press Kim Jong-il to resume talks with South Korea after a four-month break in contacts, partly prompted by US President George Bush's branding of the North as part of an "axis of evil".

Korean contacts on hold
Visit of North Korean leader to south
Reunions of divided families
Reopening of rail and road links
Closer economic ties

The talks come ahead of a key visit to Pyongyang next week by a South Korean envoy, Lim Dong-won.

South Korea hopes Mr Lim's four-day stay will help renew a stalled dialogue and reduce tension on the peninsula ahead of the football World Cup, which the South is co-hosting.

US talks

South Korea's President Kim Dae-jung has said talks between the two Koreas was "essential", not just for the countries themselves but also for improving US and Japanese relations with the communist North.

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, left, meets Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji in Beijing, 25 March 2002.
Megawati arrived from China
In another sign of diplomatic progress, Japan's health minister is expected to meet his North Korean counterpart in Singapore this weekend.

North Korean officials are also reported to have met US officials in New York earlier this month.

Megawati's visit coincides with a rare session of North Korea's parliament.

Premier Hong Song-nam told the Supreme People's Assembly that the country needed to open up its economy, which analysts say is one of the world's least developed.

"It is necessary to improve trade and economic cooperation and widely conduct joint ventures and collaboration with different countries and international organisations," the official news agency KCNA quoted him as saying.

'Land of bliss'

North Korea's parliament
Known as Supreme People's Assembly
687 members
Meets just once or twice a year
Kim Jong-il attended last year's one day session
KCNA said the parliament had passed a new land use law which had helped turn rural areas "into a socialist land of bliss".

After her 48-hour trip to the North, Megawati is due to visit the South's capital, Seoul.

North Korea is also preparing to welcome tourists from South Korea and Japan next month for its Arirang festival and for other celebrations to mark the 90th birthday anniversary of the late Kim Il-sung.

The two Koreas remain technically at war as they did not sign a peace treaty at the end of the 1950-53 conflict.

The BBC's Caroline Gluck
"The Indonesian President held bi-lateral talks"
See also:

26 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
North Korea gears up for festivities
26 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
South Korean envoy 'may meet Kim'
21 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Anger over Korea military exercise
25 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: North Korea's strategic moves
01 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea hits back at US
26 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
China's North Koreans in hiding
20 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
'Manhunt' for N Korean defectors
14 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Koreans' embassy dash
26 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Kim dismisses 'rogue' status
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