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The BBC's Caroline Gluck
"South Korea says it has suspended anti-North Korean propaganda"
 real 28k

Kenneth Bacon, spokesman for US defence secretary
"[US troops] have been a force for stability in the region"
 real 28k

Friday, 16 June, 2000, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Koreas end propaganda war
Two Korean leaders
The two Kims: Optimistic about future relations
South Korea is suspending all anti-North Korean propaganda, including its famed broadcasts at the heavily fortified border dividing the two Cold War rivals.

And South Korean monitors said North Korean radio stations had dropped reports on South Korean affairs which contained fierce denunciations of the Seoul government.

The gestures follow this week's historic summit between the two Korean leaders in which they pledged to try to end more than half a century of hostilities. But the US said on Friday it would still keep troops in South Korea despite the peace efforts.
Border
Propaganda broadcasts have ceased at the border

North Korea wants US troops to leave the Korean peninsula as an early condition for improved relations with the South.

The two Koreas are still technically at war after their three-year conflict ended in 1953 without a peace deal.

But on Thursday the North's Communist leader Kim Jong-il and the South's President Kim Dae-jung signed a landmark agreement promising to ease tensions.

Insults

For the last five decades the South and North have engaged in a heavy propaganda war.

Public address systems on each side of the 4km wide no-man's land running 242km across the peninsula have blasted insults.
Kim Dae-jung in Seoul
President Kim receives an emotional welcome on his return to Seoul

But Seoul announced on Friday it had turned off its broadcasts. The giant loudspeakers mounted on hills the other side of the demilitarised zone (DMZ) fell silent just before the summit.

US troops

Kim Dae-jung has hailed the talks with communist leader Kim Jong-il as "the biggest event of our history" and said he believed the peninsula would eventually be reunified.

But despite the thaw in relations, the US said it was "premature" to speculate about withdrawing American troops.
US soldiers patrol the DMZ
The US has 37,000 troops in South Korea

The US has maintained its military presence since the 1950s and about 37,000 troops are currently stationed there.

Reports say Washington has decided on a partial easing of its trade embargo against Pyongyang. But it will maintain a ban on the sale of technology with potential military use.

US officials stressed that North Korea's missile threat still remained.

Peace gestures

During this week's summit in the North's capital Pyongyang, the two Korean leaders agreed to strengthen economic ties and begin reuniting families divided by the war.
Praying
Koreans in North and South are hoping the momentum will continue

Both Koreas have been swift to make goodwill gestures following the end of the talks. The South Korean football authorities said the two countries would send a unified team to the Asia Cup in Lebanon in October.

South Korea's Ministry of Defence said it may scale back its $45m programme to mark the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean war.

And North Korea returned a South Korean fishing-boat that had sailed into its waters after straying across the disputed sea border.

Last year the North and South Korean navies exchanged gunfire in the area in a dispute over fishing rights.

In another development, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung said his North Korean counterpart had agreed to his request to invite Pope John Paul II for a visit.

He quoted Kim Jong-il as replying: "Okay then tell the Pope to come."

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See also:

16 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
US keeping troops in Korea
15 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
World welcomes Korean sunshine
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North-South Joint Declaration
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Korea: No going back
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Pyongyang, I love you
15 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
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N Korea 'agrees to papal visit'
16 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Puppy love helps unite Koreas
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