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(LEAD) N. Korea formally notified of Lee's invitation for Kim

All Headlines 17:45 May 18, 2011

(ATTN: UPGRADES attribution throughout)

SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea formally conveyed President Lee Myung-bak's offer to invite North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to a major international security summit in Seoul next year during recent contact with Pyongyang, an official said Wednesday.

Lee unveiled the proposal during a visit to Berlin last week, saying he would invite Kim to next year's Nuclear Security Summit of about 50 world leaders if Pyongyang firmly commits to nuclear disarmament and apologizes for last year's two deadly attacks on the South.

"The genuine intention of our government has been delivered to the North," presidential spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung said, adding that there was person-to-person contact with the North after Lee made the proposal.

Kim declined to give more details, such as who was involved and where the sides met.

"We hope there will be more specific discussions between the South and the North if there is an opportunity in the future," she said.

The North's initial reaction to the proposal was negative.

A couple of days after Lee announced the proposal, Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, a propaganda outlet, denounced it as "ridiculous" and an attempt to disarm and invade the communist nation with the United States.

But South Korean officials said they do not consider the reaction as an official response.

Analysts said chances of North Korea accepting the offer are low, and the proposal appears to be aimed at pressuring the North to make a strategic choice to give up its nuclear ambitions and break the deadlock in inter-Korean relations.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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