Sun, Aug 23, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Lee mulls meeting N Korea officials


South Korea said yesterday it was considering a request by visiting North Korean officials to meet South Korean President Lee Myung-bak amid reports they were carrying a message from the communist country’s leader.

The six officials arrived in the South on Friday to mourn late South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, a champion of inter-Korean dialogue who died on Tuesday. It was the first time the North had sent a delegation to mourn a South Korean leader.

Any meeting with Lee would be significant because relations between Pyongyang and Seoul have been tense since the conservative, pro-US former businessman took office in February last year.

An official dealing with inter-Korean affairs in Lee’s office said officials were considering the request for a meeting, but had not yet decided. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing a source it did not identify, said the delegation was carrying a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

The six North Koreans were originally scheduled to return home yesterday afternoon, but South Korea’s YTN television reported that they would stay another day and that Lee had no plan to meet the officials yesterday.

North Korean spy chief Kim Yang-gon, who also handles inter-Korean affairs, held an 80-minute meeting with South Korean Unification Minister Hyun In-taek earlier in the day, the first such top-level meeting in almost two years.

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