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S. Korea's religious leaders make rare trip to DPRK

09-21-2011 15:12 BJT

SEOUL, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- South Korean religious leaders left for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Wednesday in a rare trip aimed at promoting peace on the divided peninsula.

The heads of South Korea's seven largest religious groups, all members of the Korean Conference of Religion for Peace (KCRP), are traveling to Pyongyang via China.

"We want to convey our aspirations for peace to North Korea ( DPRK)," Kim Hee-joong, Archbishop of Gwangju who also heads the KCRP, said before departure.

"We'd like to contribute narrowing down our differences on our way to unification and opening a new chapter in history of reconciliation."

The leaders are expected to hold talks and joint prayer meetings with their DPRK counterparts.

There has been speculation the leaders might meet with top DPRK leader Kim Jong-il, but the seven leaders said they "cannot predict" the possibility of such a meeting.

Observers say the rare trip might help improve inter-Korean ties, which got strained after two deadly border incidents last year that had prompted Seoul to suspend nearly all exchanges with Pyongyang.

Seoul recently allowed a group of Buddhists to visit Pyongyang to attend a Buddhist ceremony, which marked the first approval of a religious visit here since the government put a stop to cultural and religious exchanges on hold.

In yet another sign of improving cross-border ties, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra director Chung Myung-whun, who visited the DPRK earlier this month, said the two Koreas agreed to stage joint performances.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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