Voice of America 3/4/97
KOREA TALKS O'NITER
BYLINE=VICTOR BEATTIE
DATELINE=WASHINGTON

INTRO: NORTH KOREAN OFFICIALS TODAY (WEDNESDAY) WILL MEET IN THE SAME NEW YORK HOTEL ROOM WITH THEIR SOUTH KOREAN AND AMERICAN COUNTERPARTS FOR A BRIEFING ON PROPOSED FOUR-PARTY PEACE TALKS. V-O-A'S VICTOR BEATTIE REPORTS IT COULD BE MONTHS BEFORE ANY FORMAL TALKS ON ENDING THE 1953 KOREAN WAR ARMISTICE WILL GET UNDER WAY:

TEXT: THE BRIEFING, TWICE POSTPONED AT NORTH KOREA'S REQUEST, WILL OUTLINE A NEARLY ONE-YEAR OLD U-S / SOUTH KOREA PROPOSAL FOR PEACE TALKS INCLUDING THE UNITED STATES, THE KOREAS AND CHINA. ANALYST CHARLES MORRISON OF THE EAST-WEST INSTITUTE IN HONOLULU CALLS PYONGYANG'S PARTICIPATION SIGNIFICANT, BUT NOT SURPRISING, GIVEN THE ASIAN COUNTRY'S CURRENT PLIGHT:

// MORRISON ACTUALITY //

THE NORTH KOREANS ARE DESPERATE. THEIR ECONOMY IS IN TERRIBLE SHAPE. THEY HAVE SERIOUS PROBLEMS OVER FOOD. THE U-S AND SOUTH KOREAN GOVERNMENTS HAVE JUST PROMISED MORE FOOD ASSISTANCE AND I THINK THIS WAS A GESTURE ON THEIR PART TO RECIPROCATE.

// END ACTUALITY //

SOUTH KOREA AND THE UNITED STATES LAST WEEK PLEDGED 16-MILLION DOLLARS IN AID.

A SENIOR U-S OFFICIAL SAYS PYONGYANG'S WILLINGNESS TO ATTEND INDICATES THE NORTH KOREAN REGIME IS NEITHER UNSTABLE NOR ON THE VERGE OF COLLAPSE. HE SAYS U-S SANCTIONS ON PYONGYANG WILL NOT BE LIFTED UNTIL A PERMANENT PEACE IS AGREED TO OR U-S CONCERNS ABOUT MISSILE PROLIFERATION AND MISSING SERVICEMEN ARE ADDRESSED. THE OFFICIAL SAYS NO PRECONDITIONS HAVE BEEN ATTACHED TO THE BRIEFING AND WANTS THE TALKS TO BE A GENUINE DIALOGUE.

ACTUAL NEGOTIATIONS ON A PERMANENT PEACE MAY NOT BEGIN UNTIL AFTER EVENTS SURROUNDING THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF NORTH KOREAN LEADER KIM IL-SUNG IN JULY END. (SIGNED)

NEB/VIC/CF

04-Mar-97 10:55 PM EST (0355 UTC)
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