That concern has been the main impetus for proposals to build a U.S. national missile defense system. North Korea has already agreed to freeze its nuclear weapons program and to stop selling missiles to regimes the United States considers hostile.
Kim Eager for More Talks
Before opening the talks today, Kim told Albright, the first U.S. official he had ever met, “I don’t think the three hours of discussions we had yesterday were enough to break the silence of 50 years.”
Albright said they also discussed security issues, terrorism, human rights, missing persons and “the need for concrete steps toward tension reduction on the Korean peninsula.”
“It is important that we work to overcome the enmities of the past and focus on a brighter future for our peoples,” Albright said.
Earlier in the day, Albright ventured out into the countryside for a lunch held by Jo Myong Rok, Kim’s top aide, at a rural guest house. Trees along the route from capital were ablaze with color.
Toasting her host there, Albright said: “The U.S. loves peace and we want to see Cold War divisions end. We want countries to feel secure from the threats, conflict and war.”
In his remarks, Jo said the U.S.-North Korean relationship “that has been frozen so deep over the past several decades is now reaching the historic moment of thawing.”
Jo, whose toast was read by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan, said he was convinced that Albright’s visit would lead to “further improved breakthroughs” in the relationship between their countries.
Indeed, Albright was seeking to lay the groundwork for a visit by President Clinton as early as next month. White House spokesman Jake Siewert said the president would not decide whether to make the trip until Albright’s return.
“We have some hope of resolving our outstanding differences with North Korea and looking forward to the day when they will truly close the last chapter in the aftermath of the Korean War,” Clinton said Monday.
Albright urged caution. “We must be pragmatic and recognize that the road to fully normal relations remains uphill,” she said.
Historic Situations From her first step on North Korean soil to her meeting with Kim, Monday was a day of firsts for Albright. No other secretary of state had ventured to North Korea, nor had any other U.S. officials met with the reclusive leader.
Kim made note of the occasion. “This is a new one from a historic point of view,” he said.
Albright paid separate courtesy calls earlier today on President Kim Yong Nam, the ceremonial head of state, and the North Korean foreign minister, Paek Nam Sun.
Before returning home, Albright scheduled a stop in Seoul on Wednesday to tell South Korean and Japanese officials about her meetings with Kim.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.