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Australia renews relations with North Korea

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer this week welcomed a new beginning in Australia-DPRK relations when Australia's newly appointed Ambassador to, Mr David Irvine, presented his credentials in Pyongyang to the Head of State, Kim Yong-nam.

This concludes a twelve-month process of restoring Australia's diplomatic relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)which were interrupted nearly twenty-five years ago. Mr Downer said the occasion is part of a number of positive developments on the Korean Peninsula and that Australia warmly welcomed the summit between the leaders of the Republic of Korean and the DPRK on 15 June.

Mr Irvine's visit was described as a timely opportunity to learn at first hand how the issues covered at the summit will be taken forward.

Mr Irvine is concurrently Australian Ambassador to China and resident in Beijing. During his visit (4-8 July) the Ambassador will make introductory calls on officials from various government departments with responsibility for the DPRK's international political and economic relations.

The DPRK has been invited to join Australia and other members of the Asia Pacific region participating in the ASEAN Regional Forum to be held later this month in Bangkok. This is another welcome development as further engagement of the DPRK in regional affairs is a vital step in easing regional tensions.

Mr Irvine will also pass on to his DPRK counterparts the best wishes of Australians to the athletes from the DPRK who will participate in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

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