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Monday, July 26, 1999 Published at 01:01 GMT 02:01 UK


World: Asia-Pacific

North Korea urged to make peace

North Korea is considered the region's most unpredictable state

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has called on North Korea to take action to reduce its international isolation - a move that she said "would be a major step toward lasting peace for the region."

Mrs Albright was speaking in Singapore at a meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) and ministers from other Asia-Pacific nations.

North Korea, which was not at the meeting, is reported to be planning further a long-range missile tests following a surprise launch of a new missile last year that set alarm bells ringing across the region.

However Mrs Albright said new opportunities existed for the North Koreans and she hoped other countries would press them to respond positively.


[ image: Mrs Albright urged Burma's generals to begin talks with the opposition]
Mrs Albright urged Burma's generals to begin talks with the opposition
On Monday, in a further sign of US concern, Defence Secretary William Cohen is due to arrive in Japan for talks with the North Korean threat high on the agenda of both sides

Speaking after meetings with foreign ministers from across the region, Mrs Albright also turned her attention on the military government in Burma, warning that it posed a threat to regional stability.

She said she had told regional officials that it was important to be frank about the situation in Burma and urged the government there to open a dialogue with opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Missile test


[ image: A North Korean missile test last August set alarm bells ringing]
A North Korean missile test last August set alarm bells ringing
Last August North Korea tested a three-stage rocket that flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean. It is thought the missile could be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

Now South Korean observers say preparations for another test appear to be under way - this time on a missile that could reach across the Pacific as far as Alaska and Hawaii.

Mrs Albright said she would urge ministers attending Asean security talks on Monday to work towards ensuring stability on the Korean peninsula.

She said it was "perhaps the most dangerous place on Earth today."

Tensions eased


[ image: Mrs Albright said talks with her Chinese counterpart had eased tensions]
Mrs Albright said talks with her Chinese counterpart had eased tensions
Earlier, Mrs Albright met Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan for talks which she said had eased tensions with China over Nato's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

The meeting was the highest level encounter between the two nations since the bombing, which Beijing insists was not accidental despite Washington's statements to the contrary.

Mr Tang said China wanted to see some kind of accountability being placed for the embassy bombing.

He said the incident had "left a deep scar in the hearts of the Chinese people. We don't think we have reached the stage where we can say we are satisfied or not."

Mrs Albright said she had stressed to her Chinese counterpart Washington's commitment to a one-China policy.

The Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui recently declared this to be out-dated and irrelevant to the current political reality.





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