Ex-South Korean President wants to visit North Korea

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung hopes to visit communist North Korea in April to meet leader Kim Jong Il, the former president's aide said Wednesday. Kim Dae-jung, who won the 2000 Nobel peace prize for his "sunshine" policy of engagement with Pyongyang after holding an unprecedented summit with the North's Kim that year, has repeatedly expressed hope of revisiting.

The South Korean government delivered a message of Kim's wish to visit the North in April via an inter-Korean railway being built across the heavily fortified border separating the two Koreas, Kim's aide Choi Kyung-hwan said. Further discussions with both governments are needed to work out details of the trip, Choi said, adding the North has yet to respond.

The North's Kim has three times invited the ex-South Korean president, who agreed to visit at an appropriate time. During the 2000 summit, Kim Jong Il promised to pay a return trip to Seoul, but hasn't yet done so.

The two Koreas remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.

Meanwhile, Kim Dae-jung accused Washington of stalling international talks on ending the North's nuclear programs by alleging that Pyongyang is involved in illicit activities like counterfeiting and money laundering.

"I don't think the United States has secured any direct evidence of the North's (alleged) counterfeiting," Kim said in an interview with the Segye Times newspaper published Wednesday. "The problem should not be solved in ways that would hinder the six-party talks," Kim said, referring to the nuclear talks that involve the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Washington last year slapped restrictions on a bank in the Chinese territory of Macau, saying it had helped North Korea distribute counterfeit U.S. currency and engage in other illicit activities, and also imposed sanctions on eight North Korean companies allegedly acting as fronts for proliferating weapons of mass destruction, reports the AP. I.L.

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