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South Korean leader says summit unlikely with North Korea


SEOUL, South Korea -- Saying that he feels "betrayed" and "disappointed" by hard-line Communists in North Korea, President Kim Young Sam of South Korea yesterday ruled out further steps any time soon toward reconciliation and dialogue on the Korean peninsula.

Mr. Kim, speaking in a 90-minute interview on the eve of a trip to Canada and the United States, where he will meet with President Clinton, also dismissed the prospect of a summit meeting soon between the leaders of the two Koreas.

"Given the uncertainty surrounding North Korea, I don't think this is an appropriate time to talk about an inter-Korean summit meeting," he said.

His remarks underscore the hardening of attitudes in South Korea toward the north, and the degree to which disillusionment and distrust have replaced the hopes for dialogue that had hung in the air as recently as this spring.

In June, for example, Mr. Kim had spoken with moderate enthusiasm about the possibility of a summit meeting.

The United States has a huge stake in peace on the peninsula. While the border between the Koreas is no longer seen as a potential tripwire for World War III, it remains a possible (x battleground involving United States troops and perhaps even nuclear weapons.

Mr. Kim's statements suggest that in Korea at least, the cold war is not only still alive but also risks breaking into a real war at any time.

He added that signs of this already have become apparent in the last few months, with North Korea's beefing up its armed forces and giving more power to the armed forces.

The current mood in Korea contrasts with optimism that flickered quite recently. Last year, Mr. Kim was preparing for a summit meeting when North Korean president Kim Il Sung suddenly died.

Then this spring, North Korea showed unexpected flexibility by asking for rice shipments to ease a shortage at home. South Korea began to ship rice to the north, and hopes grew that a peace process could be built on the sacks of rice.

Then North Korea forced one of the South Korean ships carrying rice to raise a North Korean flag and detained crew members of another on charges of spying. In addition, North Korea continued to hold a fishing boat and crew that it had seized at sea earlier this year.

Mr. Kim said that the North Koreans had promised that if they received rice, they would free the boat and stop broadcasting denunciations of the Seoul government. But the fishing boat and crew remain in northern hands and the broadcasts continue.

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