Carter expected to visit Seoul after trip to North

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Carter expected to visit Seoul after trip to North

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will likely give a briefing about his visit to North Korea, scheduled for early next week, directly to South Korean leaders including President Lee Myung-bak, according to Seoul sources yesterday.

The sources told reporters that Carter said he wanted to come to Seoul after his trip to the North, slated for April 26-28. He is expected to arrive in a private jet.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday confirmed the visit. “It is a fact that Carter is hoping to visit Seoul on his return trip and we understand that he will visit unless circumstances change,” said ministry spokesman Cho Byung-je at a media briefing.

A meeting between Carter and Lee has not been confirmed, but diplomatic observers said Carter would request one.

Carter’s trip to the North was arranged amid heightened diplomatic moves by the international community to reconnect with the North. The isolated regime, suffering from a serious food shortage, has also recently made conciliatory gestures toward the world.

Diplomatic observers anticipate that the trip, which Carter has said will be focused on the North Korea nuclear issue, will build momentum for stalled six-party denuclearization talks. Seoul is monitoring how Carter’s trip could affect its bid to confirm Pyongyang’s sincerity through inter-Korean talks before the resumption of six-party talks.

The sources said the South Korean government last month explained to Carter’s side its stance on the North’s provocations against the South last year.

Three other former heads of state - former Irish President Mary Robinson, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari - will accompany Carter on his trip to the North.

Carter won a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and meeting with then-North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in 1994. Carter, 86, visited the North last August to win the release of American Aijalon Gomes, but he did not meet with Kim Jong-il. Speculation is high that he could meet Kim during this trip.

By Moon Gwang-lip []

한글 관련 기사 [연합]

카터, 방북 직후 28일 남한으로 직행 가능성

전용기편으로 서해 경유…한국일정은 미지수

오는 26일 평양을 방문하는 지미 카터 전(前) 미국 대통령이 28일 방북일정을 마친 뒤 중국 베이징(北京)을 거치지 않고 곧바로 남한으로 내려올 가능성이 높은 것으로 21일 알려졌다.

카터 전대통령을 태운 전용기는 서해상의 공해를 거쳐 서울로 들어올 것으로 전해졌다.

복수의 정부 고위소식통은 21일 "카터 전대통령 측이 전용기편으로 남한에 내려오겠다는 희망사항을 전해왔다"면서 "정부로서는 굳이 이를 반대하기 어렵다고 본다"고 말했다.

전직 국가수반 3명과 동행하는 카터 전대통령은 서울로 들어와 이명박 대통령과의 면담을 추진할 것으로 알려졌으나 면담 여부를 비롯한 구체적인 일정이 아직 확정되지 않은 것으로 알려졌다.

카터 전대통령은 `엘더스 그룹(The Elder`s Group)`에 속한 메리 로빈슨 전 아일랜드 대통령과 그로 할렘 브룬트란트 전 노르웨이 총리, 마르티 아티사리 전 핀란드 대통령과 함께 26일부터 28일까지 평양을 방문해 김정일 국방위원장과 면담할 가능성이 큰 것으로 알려졌다.

정부 당국자는 "김 위원장 면담 여부는 아직 확정되지 않은 것으로 알고 있다"고 말했다.

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