Fri, 12 Aug 1994

North Korea honors Alatas with award

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Alatas yesterday received the Order of Friendship First Class award from North Korea for his efforts toward the reunification of the two Koreas.

Former Indonesian ambassador to North Korea Muhamad Muharam Soemadipradja was awarded the Order of Friendship Second Class honor.

During a ceremony held at the North Korean embassy here, the Ambassador of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Han Bong- ha, said the awards were tokens of appreciation towards the efforts that both officials had made in ending the dispute on the Korean peninsula.

"Through their foreign affairs activities, they have supported our people's cause for national reunification and for the development of the friendly relations between Korea and Indonesia," he said.

(In left photo, Alatas (right) is seen conversing with Han while Soemadipradja looks on).

"I feel grateful and honored to receive this award, although I don't feel I have done much in encouraging a reunification between the two Koreas to take place," Alatas told reporters after the ceremony.

He also said Indonesia's policy on nuclear proliferation was clear and would remain in place against any form of proliferation.

He acknowledged that the new round of talks between the United States and North Korea on the nuclear issue, which has begun in Geneva, is a major step toward resolving the conflict on the Korean peninsula.

"We hope the new leader, Kim Il-jung, will continue the provision to have high-level talks with South Korea," he added.

On bilateral economic relations, Alatas said Indonesia must await new developments in North Korea before expanding ties. "I think we have to wait and see what policies will be put down by the new leader." (pwn)