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N. Korean delegation pay respects to kim Dae-jung
HONG KONG, Aug 21 (Agencies):
Published on 21 Aug. 2009 11:20 PM IST
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A high-level North Korean delegation arrived in South Korea on Friday afternoon and was escorted to a memorial altar in Seoul to pay respects to the late president Kim Dae-jung. A South Korean government official said six North Korean diplomats were in the group, including two envoys known to be close advisers to the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. They arrived in Seoul at 3:10 p.m. and were met at the airport by the deputy head of South Korea’s Unification Ministry, Hong Yang-ho, and a former chief minister, Jeong Se-hyun. The North Korean entourage was led by Kim Ki-nam, a senior leader in the North Korea Workers’ Party. The group went directly from the airport to lay a funeral wreath at the memorial altar erected at the National Assembly. The South Korean government official, who asked not to be named because she was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said no meetings with South Korea’s unification minister, the foreign minister or President Lee Myung-bak had been scheduled. The diplomats were scheduled to return to Pyongyang on Saturday. If they stick to that schedule, they would miss the official state funeral scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Kim Dae-jung, the South Korean president from 1998-2003, died Tuesday at age 83. His presidency was marked by a landmark summit meeting in Pyongyang with Kim Jong-il in June 2000 and by his “sunshine policy” of increased aid and trade that eased relations with the North. North Korea proposed on Wednesday to send a condolence delegation to Seoul — a rare event in inter-Korean relations — and the South Korean government agree to the trip on Thursday. Conservative South Korean activists, angered over North Korea’s detention and abduction of South Koreans over the years, said they planned to shadow the North Koreans and protest the visit. Separately, in a report on Friday from Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, China acknowledged that Wu Dawei, its chief nuclear envoy to talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, had recently visited Pyongyang and met with the North’s top negotiator.

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