Australian Foreign Minister Plans Pyongyang Trip
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Sunday he was planning a trip to North Korea, the first time an Australian minister has visited the secretive communist state.
Downer's spokesman told AFP they were in the middle of planning the trip following a historic visit to Pyongyang by United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on October 23.
"It would be a symbol of the renewal of confidence in the relationship," Downer's spokesman said.
No date had been set for Downer's visit.
Australia and North Korea agreed in May this year to resume diplomatic ties after almost 25 years.
Australia and North Korea first established ties in 1974 but these were suspended a year later when North Korea withdrew its embassy from Canberra and expelled staff from the Australian embassy in Pyongyang.
North Korea never fully explained its action.
The resumption of relations followed a round of senior officials' talks in Pyongyang in February -- the first with the North since relations were severed.
Downer met North Korean Foreign Minister Paek at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 1999.
North Korea, plunged into a severe economic crisis and food shortages, has taken dramatic steps toward ending five decades of self-imposed isolation since a historic summit in June between Kim Jong-Il and President Kim Dae-Jung of South Korea – SYDNEY (AFP)
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