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US and North Korea: half a century of hostility

by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Aug 4, 2009
Former US president Bill Clinton arrived Tuesday in North Korea in an apparent attempt to secure the release of two jailed journalists -- the highest-profile American visitor to the communist state since 2000.

Here are key dates in the history of relations:

1945: Japan's colonial rule over Korea ends with its World War II surrender. Country is divided at the 38th parallel between the North, backed by the Soviet Union, and the South, supported by the United States.

1950-53: After Soviet and US troops leave the Korean peninsula, the North invades the South and war breaks out. The United States intervenes on behalf of the South as part of a United Nations force, and China on the side of the North.

The war leaves an estimated four million people dead. The US retains a major military presence in the South.

1968: North Korean gunboats seize the spy ship USS Pueblo. The crew of 83 is detained for 11 months before being released.

1969: North Korea shoots down an American spy plane.

1976: North Korean troops murder two US army officers after a dispute over plans to trim a tree inside the Demilitarised Zone. US assembles major air and ground forces along the border. Trimming goes ahead three days later.

1988: US imposes sanctions on North Korea after putting the country on its list of nations supporting terrorism.

1989: US satellite pictures reveal nuclear reprocessing plant at Yongbyon complex.

1994: US comes close to war with North Korea over its removal of spent fuel rods from the Yongbyon reactor. Ex-president Jimmy Carter defuses crisis with visit to Pyongyang. Under an accord with Washington, Pyongyang vows to freeze and dismantle its nuclear programme in return for energy aid.

1998: North Korea fires first long-range ballistic missile.

2000: US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright meets leader Kim Jong-Il during a two-day visit to Pyongyang. Ties worsen after George W. Bush becomes US president the following year.

2002: Bush names North Korea as part of an "Axis of Evil."

The 1994 accord breaks down after US accusations that the North has a secret nuclear weapons programme using enriched uranium.

2003: North Korea withdraws from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Six-way nuclear talks start in Beijing in August.

2005: For the first time, North Korea states that it has nuclear weapons.

2006: North carries out test-firing of missiles to coincide with US Independence Day.

On October 9 North Korea carries out its first nuclear test, sparking international condemnation and more UN sanctions.

On December 18, six-party talks resume briefly after a 13-month hiatus.

2007: North Korea agrees in February to scrap its nuclear facilities in return for economic aid and diplomatic benefits. In July, North Korea says it has closed down its main nuclear site.

2008: In June, North Korea blows up the cooling tower at Yongbyon to show its commitment to nuclear disarmament.

In October, Washington removes North Korea from its terrorism blacklist.

2009: March 17: North Korea detains two US journalists on the border with China.

April 5: North launches long-range rocket, attracting UN condemnation. Pyongyang announces it will quit the six-party talks in protest and restart its Yongbyon complex.

May 25: North conducts its second nuclear test, sparking tougher UN sanctions.

June 8: Journalists are jailed for 12 years for illegal entry and "grave crimes."

July 4: North launches seven ballistic missiles

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Early return of fishing boat a possibility
Seoul (UPI) Jul 31, 2009
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