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2ND LD: N. Korea withdraws boycott of Universiade in S. Korea.

BEIJING, Aug. 19 Kyodo

(EDS: UPDATING WITH N. KOREAN STATEMENT)

North Korea on Tuesday withdrew its decision to boycott the World University Games opening Thursday in the South Korean city of Taegu, according to an official report monitored in Beijing.

The reversal follows South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun's expression of regret earlier Tuesday over last Friday's anti-North Korean rallies in Seoul, in which North Korean flags and photos of the country's leader Kim Jong Il were burned.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted a statement from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland as hailing Roh's gesture as a ''good thing.''

''The North took this decision prompted by its desire to get reconciled with fellow countrymen and unite with them to achieve reunification,'' the statement said. ''Reflected in the decision are the warm compatriotic feelings of the northerners toward the South Korean brothers and sisters.''

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported earlier Tuesday that the North Korean decision to send its athletes and a group of supporters to the 22nd Universiade was conveyed to the South Korean side through contacts at the truce village of Panmunjom.

South Korea's state-run Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) reported that Roh told a meeting of his senior secretaries at the Blue House presidential office it was ''regrettable and inappropriate that North Korean flags and photos of (National Defense Commission) Chairman Kim Jong Il were burned'' at Friday's rallies.

At the meeting, Roh said that North and South Korea are ''making efforts to achieve reconciliation and cooperation through dialogue even if the two sides have confronted each other.''

Roh's remarks were made in response to a North Korean statement issued Monday, in which the North criticized the anti-North Korean rallies and said it would cancel plans to send a team to participate in the 11-day games in the southeastern city of Taegu.

North Korea had demanded an official apology from South Korean authorities for having allowed the rallies, and had said it could not send its athletes to the South ''where security has not been secured.''

Pyongyang's statement Tuesday said its decision to participate in the games ''is a clear proof of its patriotic will and broad magnanimity to set store by the June 15 (2000) North-South Joint Declaration and achieve national cooperation in its basic spirit.''

''This visit to the South clearly proves that no matter how desperate the anti-reunification forces in South Korea may become in their moves, they can never stem the nation's trend to become one.''

The statement said the North's players team and supporters' group ''will strive to make the Taegu Universiade offer an important occasion in demonstrating to the world the true appearance of one Korea in which North and South Koreans would firmly join hands with each other, away from the idea of contending for victory just as they did in the Pusan Asian games last year.''
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Aug 26, 2003
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