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The BBC's Dan Isaacs
"Both sides have indicated they would like to establish close diplomatic relations"
 real 56k

The BBC's Richard Lister in Pyongyang
"They don't want to be seen as a sucker for any kind of threat from smaller countries"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 24 October, 2000, 06:48 GMT 07:48 UK
US warms to new Korean era
Military parade
A military parade was laid on for Mrs Albright
United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is holding further talks with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, as they try to improve relations between Pyongyang and Washington.


The road to fully normal relations remains uphill

Madeleine Albright
Mr Kim welcomed Mrs Albright for a second day of talks, saying their three hours of discussions on Monday had not been enough to break 50 years of silence.

US officials say they think North Korea may be ready to address US concerns about its missile programme, its nuclear capacity and links to groups regarded as terrorist.

Mrs Albright has made clear that any future visit by President Bill Clinton will depend on progress, but she has said both sides are moving towards a fundamental improvement in their relationship.

'Historical'

The first meeting between Mrs Albright and Mr Kim, on Monday, lasted three hours, and was described by a US official as "substantive".

Afterwards, at a state banquet Mrs Albright said the two sides were moving slowly towards an improved relationship.

Kim Sung-il
The US wants a clearer idea of the direction Mr Kim is taking North Korea
But she stressed that North Korea has to make some important changes first and, in a toast at a dinner in her honour last night, she said the road ahead was uphill.

Mr Kim was noticeably pleased about the visit.

"This is a new one from a historical point of view," he said.

"I am really very happy."

US troops

A BBC correspondent travelling with Mrs Albright says the fact further talks were initiated is a sign of how intensive the dialogue has become between two states that do not even have diplomatic relations.

Albright and North Korean child
Mrs Albright is the highest-ranking US official to visit North Korea

Mrs Albright was a guest at a gala spectacle featuring 100,000 dancers, singers and musicians in honour of the North Korean communist party's 55th anniversary.

Missile programme

Mrs Albright is hoping her visit will give the US a better idea of the direction Mr Kim intends to take North Korea in its relations with the outside world.

In particular, she is seeking further details on Pyongyang's recent suggestion that it might abandon its nuclear missile programme in return for financial and other assistance to help it recover from years of famine.

The US believes that halting sales of North Korean missiles to countries like Pakistan, Syria and Iran would go a long way towards maintaining stability in some of the world's most turbulent regions.

At present the US maintains some 37,000 troops based in South Korea - a legacy of the Korean War which ended more than 45 years ago in an uneasy truce.

Washington has been encouraged by the fact that North Korea has been reaching out diplomatically over recent months.

South Korea's President Kim Dae-jung - who won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month - told the BBC that he was surprised that North Korean leader had not been named as a joint winner of the prize.

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See also:

23 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Mrs Albright's visit
24 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kim hails peace prize boost
23 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Seoul searching over Albright's visit
19 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
UK and North Korea forge ties
13 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kim Dae-jung: Korean peacemaker
12 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
North Korea: A military threat?
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