North Korea signals desire to improve relations with West
September 18, 1996
Web posted at: 6:30 p.m. EDT
From Correspondent Mike Chinoy
RAJIN-SONBONG, North Korea (CNN) -- A recent North Korean
cultural performance for international visitors was filled
with dancing and singing, but was missing one customary
Such displays have usually included vitriolic propaganda
attacks on the United States. But in a sign of the changing
times, North Korea is toning down its often harsh posture as
it reaches out to its long-time adversary.
"The rhetoric has been toned down considerably," said Anthony
Namkung of Seton Hall University. "It's clear they are suing
for peace, and that they are interested in a long-term
relationship with the United States."
In recent months, North Korea has hosted U.S. teams searching
for Americans missing in action from the Korean War. Talks
continue on opening a U.S. liaison office in the North Korean
capital Pyongyang and a North Korean mission in Washington.
And the implementation of the agreement to control North
Korea's nuclear program, signed two years ago, is moving
These North Korean moves have been accompanied by
conciliatory gestures on other fronts.
The North Koreans are opening trade offices in Hong Kong and
Taiwan. They have begun direct air service from Pyongyang to
the Portuguese colony of Macau, and they are negotiating to
allow international air carriers to use their long-closed air
The changing posture has helped ease suspicions in the United
"There's been a shift in attitude in Washington away from the
notion that North Korea is a rogue nation that deserves to be
punished at every turn, to one that perhaps we ought to
engage in a measured fashion," Namkung said.
With North Korean, South Korean and U.S. troops still facing
off along the Korean Demilitarized Zone, the Korean peninsula
remains a dangerous place.
But there are now indications that North Korea may react
positively to a U.S. proposal for four-party talks among the
North, the South, Washington, and Beijing on a long-term
peace agreement for the peninsula.
There is still a long way to go. But the signs are that long-
isolated North Korea may be trying to come in from the cold.
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