Rival Koreas stop harsh words after summit

By CHARLES LEE  |  June 16, 2000
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SEOUL, South Korea, June 16 -- With reconciliation looming following a historic summit, the rival Koreas' propaganda machines stopped hurling insults at each other, official monitors in Seoul said Friday.

"North Korea's news agency, radio and television have stopped slandering South Korea since the end of the summit," said an official who monitors the North Korean press.

The North's media, which are under heavy state censorship, had been filled with vitriolic diatribes against the South Korean "puppets" of the "U.S. imperialists," he said.

North Korea also stopped broadcasting anti-Seoul propaganda over loud speakers along the border in the Demilitarized Zone, said Yun Kyu-joo at the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The North's move came after this week's landmark summit between the two Koreas, which produced an agreement aimed at promoting reconciliation and cooperation and eventually peaceful unification of the divided halves of Korea, the biggest step toward peace since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

Following the summit, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il ordered an immediate stop to verbal attacks against the South, said Seoul's Culture-Information Minister Park Jie-won, who accompanied President Kim Dae-jung on the trip to Pyongyang.

The two leaders confirmed that their countries have no intention of invading each other and would not make threatening moves. Government officials said they would push for a direct military hotline with North Korea to help prevent unexpected armed conflicts.

North Korea's state-run press hailed the summit as "an important occasion of opening a bright prospect of removing distrust and confrontation between the North and the South."

In a reconciliatory gesture, North Korea returned Friday a South Korean fishing boat which crossed into the northern waters. A year ago, the navies of the two Koreas exchanged gunfire in the area in a dispute over fishing rights. One North Korean warship sank and about 30 sailors were believed to have died.

South Korea also has halted anti-North propaganda programs, Defense Minister Cho Sung-tae said Friday. In addition, South Korea is considering canceling or scaling down ceremonies and events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, Cho said.

Upon returning to Seoul, Kim Dae-jung had a special Cabinet meeting to study follow-up measures aimed at boosting inter-Korean cooperation and exchanges. Kim also dispatched senior officials to countries such as the United States, Japan, China and Russia, to brief them on the inter-Korean summit.

Hwang Won-tak, chief presidential secretary for national security, left for Washington and Tokyo, while Vice Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon flew to Beijing and Moscow.NEWLN:

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