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Thaw With N Korea To Remain: Former S Korean Minister

June 8, 2001

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Park Jae-kyu, former South Korean unification minister, told the Future of Asia conference Friday that dialogue with North Korea is likely to continue.

"There is no turning back the tide of history because dialogue is here to stay," he said.

To ensure concrete results from discussions "more changes in North Korea's attitude are necessary," Park, now a professor at Kyungnam University, said.

He said the unexpected visit to Shanghai by North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il early this year indicates "the North has embarked on full-fledged reform and open-door policies."

He gave a positive assessment of the North Korea's recent steps toward opening doors to the world community, citing newly established diplomatic relations with most member states of the European Union and economic missions to China and the U.S.

Park described relations between North and South Korea as a little stagnant at present, but added that the North and South are just taking a break, and when the pause is over, Kim Jong-il will visit Seoul.

The annual Future of Asia conference in Tokyo is sponsored by Nihon Keizai Shimbun Inc.

(The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Friday evening edition)

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.