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N. KOREA TURNS OFF BLASTS AGAINST S. KOREAN LEADER

SHARE N. KOREA TURNS OFF BLASTS AGAINST S. KOREAN LEADER

A day after agreeing with rival South Korea on a summit aimed at easing a half-century of bitter animosity, North Korea has halted its propaganda attacks on South Korean President Kim Young-sam.

South Korean officials said Wednesday that North Korea's official radio and propaganda loudspeakers had stopped calling the South Korean leader a "traitor," "bandit," and "thief," in what they described as an encouraging sign for efforts to ease tensions between the two Koreas.The Defense Ministry officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the North halted the personal attacks just hours before it agreed Tuesday on the first meeting between leaders of the two nations.

The summit between Kim Young-sam and North Korean leader Kim Il Sung is planned for July 25-27 in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital. The two presidents are to arrange the second session during their Pyongyang talks.

There was no guarantee the summit would not fall through, as have previous summit proposals. The two Koreas are still technically at war since no treaty was signed at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Still, hopes were high for the first talks since the division of the peninsula into communist North and capitalist South in 1945.

Leaders of both countries made conciliatory comments Wednesday. Kim Il Sung said relations were moving in a positive direction, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported from Pyongyang.

Kim Young-sam, meanwhile, urged officials of both the ruling and opposition parties to put aside their differences to help make the summit successful, presidential officials quoted him as saying.