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Saturday, September 18, 1999 Published at 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

South to 'end' Korean cold war

South Korean, US and Japanese leaders met at last week's Apec summit

The South Korean President, Kim Dae-jung, has said he will end the cold war with North Korea by the end of his term of office in 2003.

The BBC's Andrew Wood in Seoul: "A favourable atmosphere for South Korea's policy of engagement"
The move follows a pledge by the North to halt its missile programme in return for an easing of US sanctions.

"I will put an end to the 54-year-long cold war without failure," he told a news conference in Seoul.

"Through negotiations, we can guarantee security to the North, help them reform their economy and help them advance into the international community.

"In exchange, we can draw promises that they abandon their provocation and projects to develop nuclear weapons and missiles."

[ image: President Kim: North's security guaranteed]
President Kim: North's security guaranteed
Mr Kim welcomed the United States' decision to ease economic sanctions against North Korea, saying the move paved the way for promoting peace and easing tensions in the region.

Earlier, Seoul's unification ministry said the government believed the easing of sanctions would "create favourable conditions for comprehensive engagement policies" with the North.

Japan, too, has welcomed the American decision, calling it a step forward.

Its prime minister was quoted as saying Japan may ease sanctions if North Korea proves serious about halting missile tests.

US eases sanctions

Washington said on Friday it was partially lifting sanctions following a North Korean pledge not to test fire its long-range ballistic missiles while it continues talks aimed at improving relations with the US.

The agreement marks the first major shift in policy since the Korean War ended in 1953.

The White House said the US wanted to pursue improved overall relations with North Korea.

The breakthrough will allow trade, especially in consumer goods, and will ease restrictions on travel and investment.

However, counter-terrorism and non-proliferation controls will still be in place.

North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme following an agreement with the US five years ago.

Since then it has continued to worry its neighbours by developing medium and long-range missiles.

Last year, it stunned Japan, South Korea and the US by firing a medium-range missile over Japan.

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