US proposal offers hope for Korean stand-off

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The Independent Online
Amid rumours of further military tension on the Korean border, North Korea announced yesterday that it was considering a proposal by South Korea and the United States to convene four-way talks aimed at bringing permanent peace to the divided peninsula.

In a statement carried by the official Korea Central News Agency, the North Korean Foreign Ministry responded for the first time to the idea of a conference bringing together the US and China, as well as the two Koreas, saying it was not yet certain whether the proposal was aimed at concluding a "genuine peace agreement between the signatories to the Korean armistice agreement." They were, they said, examining the proposal's feasibility.

The suggestion came out of a summit meeting on Tuesday between President Bill Clinton and the South Korean President Kim Young-sam, and represents the latest attempt to end the armed stand-off which has divided the communist north and the US-backed south since the end of the Korean war in 1953.