South Korea reacted positively but skeptically today to conciliatory statements reportedly made by North Korea President Kim II Sung through a visiting U.S. congressman.
Foreign Minister Park Tong Jin, in an interview, said it would signal "an improvement in their attitude" if the North Koreans are really ready for North-South trade as reportedly suggested to Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.) in talks last week in Pyonyang.
The South Korean Foreign minister also said it would imply that the North is "getting more realistic" if it is really willing to drop a previously stated condition on resumption of fullscale North-South political dialogue.
In botoh cases, however, Park said, any North Korean change of policy must be confirmed officially before Seoul will place much credence in the reports.
Part said there had been many past instances when conciliatory statements were made to prominent visitors in Pyongyang without any corresponding change in actual North Korean positions.
Park said South Korea is ready for trade with the North, and has been for quite some time.
"We have advanced proposals in trade on a number of occasions going back to November 1972," said the South Korean official. He said there had never been a positive reply from the North. If Pyongyang has changed its mind now, he added, "we are all in favor of it."
Another conciliatory point reported to have emerged from the Solarz trip is a North Korean statement that it no longer insists on repeal of South Korea's anti-communist law as condition of full-scale diplomatic dialogue.
The North raised the anti-communist law in late 1973 as one of its objections to continuing the North-South diplomatic dialogue that had began the previous year.
The South Korea foreign minister said that such a shift in North Korea's position, if confirmed would be welcome but would not be a concession. This is because "it as an unjustifiable interference with our internal affairs in the first place, he said.
Park expressed concern that the Solarz trip, which was not considered here as an official action of the U.S. government, would be used by North Korea for its political purposes.
"I don't think the trip is really helpful in any way to help solve the Korean problem," he said.
Solarz, the first U.S. congressman ever to visit North Korea, said yesterday in Peking that his trip was neither "encouraged nor discouraged" by the State Department.