February 1, 2006

Two Koreas discuss visit by Kim Dae-jung to North

By Lee Suwan and Jon Herskovitz

SEOUL (Reuters) - North and South Korea are in talks to
allow former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung to visit the
North in April, an aide to Kim said on Thursday.

Kim won a Nobel Peace prize for orchestrating an
unprecedented and so far unrepeated meeting of the leaders of
the two Koreas when he traveled to Pyongyang to meet North
Korean leader Kim Jong-il in June 2000.

That meeting set the stage for greater inter-Korean
cooperation, including work to relink roads and railway lines
through the fortified Demilitarized Zone border that has split
the peninsula since the 1950-53 Korean War.

"Kim Dae-jung hopes to visit Pyongyang by train some time
in April," an aide to the former president said by telephone.
"The South Korean government has relayed that wish to the

A South Korean government official confirmed Seoul and
Pyongyang were in talks about the possible visit, which would
come as regional powers try to persuade the North to give up
its nuclear weapons programs.

The aide to the former South Korean president said Kim
Jong-il has twice invited Kim Dae-jung to visit the North.

The leaders of the two Koreas shared handshakes, smiles and
hugs during their meeting in 2000, which was seen as a major
step toward reducing tensions on the divided peninsula.

North Korea has yet to reply to the request, the aide said.

"President Kim understands both sides are discussing the
timing of his visit," said the aide, who asked not to be named.

Despite being initially hailed as a hero for organizing the
meeting, Kim Dae-jung was later entwined in a scandal over
approximately $500 million said to be funneled to the North to
secure the summit.

Some of his top aides were convicted of making illegal
payments, although the former president avoided any legal