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The BBC's Charles Scanlon in Seoul
"The meeting has raised hopes of fundamental change"
 real 28k

BBC's Rob Watson in Washington
There's little doubt the decision was prompted by the summit
 real 28k

Friday, 16 June, 2000, 07:11 GMT 08:11 UK
N Korea 'agrees to papal visit'
Leaders of North and South sing
Leaders of divided Korea sang "Our Wish is Unification"
South Korean President Kim Dae-jung says his North Korean counterpart had agreed to invite Pope John Paul II to visit his country.

The president had asked North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to invite the Pope during their historic summit in Pyongyang this week, spokesman Park Joon-young said.

He quoted Kim Jong-Il as replying: "OK, then tell the Pope to come."

This is only a beginning. It will take time

Kim Dae-jung
South Korean Foreign Minister Lee Joung-binn has been instructed to brief the Vatican on the issue, the spokesman said.

Kim Dae-jung, who is a Catholic, had discussed a papal visit to North Korea in a visit to the Vatican in March -saying it would boost peace in the peninsula.

The South Korean president said the pope had shown an interest in visiting the Communist country, which does not encourage religion although it has a few state-sanctioned churches.

He quoted the Pope as saying it would be "a miracle" if he could go to North Korea.

'Biggest event'

The unprecedented three-day summit between the two leaders was described by Kim Dae-jung as "the biggest event of our history".

Kim Dae-jung in Seoul
President Kim received an emotional welcome on his return
Both leaders have expressed optimism about the future of their relations.

The North Korean media have also hailed the "brilliant result" of the summit, saying it opened "a bright prospect for promoting trust and reconciliation".

State radio in Pyongyang said the declaration signed by the two leaders reflected the desires of people on both sides of the border.

Speaking on his return to Seoul, President Kim Dae-jung said: "I return with the firm conviction that unification can be achieved.

"To us, a new day is beginning. We are at the juncture of opening a new chapter in our history," he said.

Hours before Mr Kim's departure the leaders of North and South held hands and sang "Our Wish is Unification" - a song that has long been popular in both countries.

US sanctions

The United States indicated that its sanctions against North Korea introduced after the 1950-53 war would soon be eased.

A new dawn at the border, but razor-wire remains in place
China said it rejoiced at the success of the summit. Japan's Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori compared the results to the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Speaking in Seoul, Kim Dae-jung said both sides would continue to dedicate themselves to reconciliation and work towards reunification - which he said was an issue for the Korean people to resolve on their own without outside interference.

He also revealed that the two parties agreed to strengthen economic ties, reopen railway lines across the peninsula and had had "fruitful" discussions on the North's nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

He also said that the two sides had agreed to begin reuniting some of the families divided since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

The two leaders signed an historic accord on Wednesday to reduce tension on the peninsula and encourage new investment by the South in the North's crippled economy.

It is being seen as the biggest step toward reconciliation between the two states since the 1950-53 war, which ended in an uneasy armistice.

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See also:

15 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
World welcomes Korean sunshine
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Clinton applauds Koreas summit outcome
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North-South Joint Declaration
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Korean summit: noting the nuances
14 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Korea: No going back
14 Jun 00 | Media reports
Korean leaders' table talk
13 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Pyongyang reaches out
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Pyongyang, I love you
15 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Korea reveals summit details
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