Albright Meets N. Korean 'Great Leader'
P Y O N G Y A N G, North Korea, Oct. 23 -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright held historic talks with North Korea’s KimJong Il today and said Washington was taking a measuredapproach to rapprochement with the secretive communist state.
“No, it is very measured,” Albright told reporters whonoted some quarters believed the United States may be movingtoo fast. “We are not going to go faster than it makes sense interms of U.S. interests.”
A smiling Kim, in a display reminiscent of his welcome forrival South Korea’s President Kim Dae-jung at their epochalJune summit, greeted Albright warmly before they settled intotalks which went on for much longer than expected.
“I am really very happy,” said Kim as he met a U.S. cabinetmember for the first time ever.
Talking for Hours
A U.S. State Department official said Albright and Kimtalked initially for two hours, took a 10-minute break, thenmet for another session likely to continue a further hour.
Although no details were available of the tone andsubstance of the discussions, Kim suddenly decided to take overas host of a dinner arranged for Albright by Vice Marshal JoMyong Rok, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission andthe highest-ranking North Korean ever to go to Washington.
Kim thanked Albright for arranging a meeting with PresidentClinton for Jo.
“There was no dispute between our countries — everything wentsmoothly,” Kim said, referring to Jo’s recent Washington trip.
A Recluse No More?
The talks were another step in reclusive North Korea’sefforts to enter the world stage. Within the past year, Kim hasalso met the presidents of China, Russia and South Korea.
While no accords are expected to be signed during hertwo-day trip, Albright will recommend for or against a visit byClinton, who could then seal some deals, a senior U.S. officialsaid.
Albright was met by North Korean vice foreign minister KimGye Gwan in a low-key ceremony at Pyongyang airport on a graycloudy morning, and her motorcade glided along largely desertedstreets on the half-hour journey into the capital.