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N. Korea proposed secret contacts with U.S. in 1974: dossier

All Headlines 15:27 December 21, 2008

By Hwang Doo-hyong

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (Yonhap) -- North Korea proposed setting up secret contacts with the United States through Romania in 1974, two years after U.S. President Richard Nixon made his historic visit to China ending decades of Cold War rivalry, a declassified U.S. document has shown.

An aide to then Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu met with then U.S. President Gerald Ford at the White House on Aug. 27, saying, "The North Korean leadership wants to have confidential contacts with the United States for discussions," according to the recently declassified Memorandum for the President's File.

"They have suggested Romania," the aide told Ford, according to the memorandum.

The suggestion was made soon after the assassination of South Korea's First Lady Yuk Young-soo by a Japan-born Korean believed to be linked to a pro-Pyongyang organization in Japan.

The aide told Ford that the Romanian president "has offered to help if you want to do it," without elaborating on what the North Koreans were hoping to discuss.

Ford's response to the proposal was lukewarm. "Certain things must precede such contacts. We don't want to go in without a firm understanding."

The U.S. president, however, told the aide he would discuss the matter with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was in attendance during the meeting between Ford and the Romanian official.

Kissinger later said he would deliver the U.S. government's position on the issue to the Romanian ambassador in Washington.

Ceausescu met with Ford at the White House on June 11, 1975, and said he had delivered Washington's position on the issue to then North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, according to the declassified document.

hdh@yna.co.kr
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