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Leaders from North, South Korea Take Steps Toward Peace Treaty

October 4, 2007 at 6:25 PM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: Some moves toward reconciliation between North and South Korea. Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News has this report on the Korean summit that ended today.

LINDSEY HILSUM, ITV News Correspondent: Signed and sealed, but will it be delivered? North Korea’s dear leader and his South Korean counterpart today agreed to a peace and economic cooperation pact.

BAEK JONG-CHUN, South Korean Presidential Secretary (through translator): South Korea and North Korea agreed that there is a need to build a permanent peaceful system and move on beyond the current cease-fire agreement. Both nations agreed to cooperate and hold a three-party or four-party talk summit on the peninsula in order to officially declare the end of war.

U.S. involvement in a peace treaty

LINDSEY HILSUM: Toasts all around, but there could be less to this than meets the eye. The main point of the agreement was that both leaders would push for a summit with the U.S. and China whose signatures are needed to close this chapter of history.

The Korean War ended in 1953, but with a cease-fire, not a proper peace treaty. It's the last frontier in the Cold War, still manned by nearly two million troops, but the Americans have made it clear they're signing nothing until North Korea abandons its nuclear program.

That day may be closer. Yesterday, it was announced that North Korea has agreed to dismantle its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon by the end of this year in exchange for fuel and other aid.

SUNG-WOOK NAM, Director, North and South Economic Research Institute (through translator): I think the U.S. would express some concerns about economic cooperation, because if South Korea supports North Korea without certain conditions upon that, it will make North Korea lose their desire for nuclear disarmament.

Providing North Korea with aid

LINDSEY HILSUM: Last night, the South Korean president and his wife were entertained by mass games. Tactfully, their hosts omitted the bit of the performance where they show North Korean soldiers symbolically bayoneting South Koreans to death.

This morning, President Roh was shown around a car factory producing vehicles called Whistle and Cuckoo. The South Korean company Hyundai produces as many cars in three hours as this plant does in a year. North Korea desperately needs aid, which is why it agreed to the nuclear deal and the summit.

More banqueting and more rhetoric.

KIM YOUNG-IL, North Korean Prime Minister (through translator): We confirmed that there is nothing we can't do if we work together based on shared wishes and efforts.

LINDSEY HILSUM: Some are touting this as a historic day on the road to peace in the Korean peninsula. But the last summit seven years ago ended with similar hopes, and North Korea remains once of the most repressive and secretive places on Earth.