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What President Kim's Europe Visit Changed

Mar 10,2000
The most important outcome of President Kim Dae-jung's four-nation European tour was his expressed determination to reopen diplomatic communication channels with North Korea, according to Lee Chong-bin, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The head of each European host country gave support to Kim's policy of engagement ("Sunshine Policy") with North Korea. Italian Premier Massimo D'Alema even promised to act as a mediator between the South and North, and both Pope John Paul II and the mayor of Berlin agreed to visit North Korea. Kim's objectives were spelled out in his "Berlin Declaration", which demanded bilateral talks between the two Korean governments.
Chong Wa Dae (Blue House) spokesman Park Joon-young said that by extending and improving relations with European nations, Kim had established the fundamental building blocks for a unified and multinational approach to bettering relations with North Korea. The European media and leaders applauded Kim for his efforts, and the Italian Premier D'Alema even dubbed Kim "Teacher of Life".
Other fruitful results of the visit were the promises of vast investments from European companies. Three nations have proposed the investment of a combined $14 billion in Korea. Lee Ki-ho, Kim's chief economic advisor, said about $10 billion of investment will be finalized within the year. This is a tremendous increase on last year's $4.7 billion.
In addition, the investments will be mostly directed toward small- and medium-sized enterprises in Korea. Kim has been trying to promote these businesses to speed economic reform. The 'Milan Project', agreed during the visit, will boost the declining textile business in Taegu, and a statement of cooperation was signed with Italian and German small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Kim's interest in venture companies won him cooperation from high-technology business. For example, at the summit talk with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the two leaders agreed on establishing a global venture investment center and cyber venture university, and on collaboration in the development of intelligent micro-systems and biological engineering.
Kim's proposed information superhighway between Europe and Asia is a big step for Korea, giving it a chance to become a leader in the cyber generation of the 21st Century, said Kim's spokesman.
The visit was also significant in diplomatic terms. Korea usually conducts diplomacy along bilateral lines, but in this visit Kim dealt with subjects relevant to the global community, such as democracy, marketing, and human rights. Hot issues in Europe and Asia like the troubles in Kosovo and East Timor were on the agenda during the summit talks, and the Third Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) to be held in Seoul in October was discussed with great attention. Kim's visit to the Vatican and Italy as the first head of state since Korea and Italy established diplomatic ties is one of the results of improvements in international diplomacy, said Park Joon-young.




by Kim Jin-kook




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