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Monday, July 24, 2000

Mori seeking contact with Kim Jong Il

Staff writer

NAGO, Okinawa Pref. — Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori indicated his readiness Sunday to have direct contact with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as Tokyo pursues normalized ties with Pyongyang.

"It would be important for me to effectively communicate with General Secretary Kim. I would like to consider the most effective ways to communicate with each other," Mori told reporters after the three-day Group of Eight summit he chaired in Nago, northern Okinawa.

He denied any specific plans were being discussed to arrange a meeting with Kim and noted it would be "some time ahead" before such talks could be held.

Foreign Minister Yohei Kono is scheduled to meet with his North Korean counterpart, Paek Nam Sun, on Wednesday in Bangkok on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum. It will be the first-ever encounter between the foreign ministers of the two countries.

Tokyo and Pyongyang are trying to schedule the next round of bilateral normalization talks, which resumed in April for the first time in more than seven years, in late August in Tokyo.

During the news conference, Mori called the inter-Korea summit held last month in Pyongyang a "historic event," noting the G8 leaders promised during the summit to support the "progress" of North and South Korean ties.

Expressing his satisfaction with the overall outcome of the G8 summit, Mori said he strongly hopes the results will help contribute to global prosperity.

Mori said the G8 leaders had a significant opportunity to discuss key issues facing the world.

"Thanks to the sincere cooperation of people in Okinawa, we were able to have a meaningful G8 summit meeting toward the 21st century," Mori said. "I would like to express my gratitude."

Mori said the G8 leaders had active and fruitful discussions over how they can contribute to bringing prosperity and peace to the world in the 21st century. The results of the meeting were woven into the "G8 Communique Okinawa 2000," he said.

Mori stressed the significance of talks on information technology — which is transforming the economies of countries with few state regulations — and the leaders' agreement on establishing an international task force to help developing countries embrace the IT revolution.

"I hope the results compiled in the Okinawa Charter on IT will play an important role in the future development of IT," Mori said.

Mori said it was meaningful that U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke at Peace Memorial Park before the people of Okinawa, adding that he was "touched" by his speech.

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The Japan Times

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