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Mandela Suggests Park in Korea DMZ

March 12, 2001

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Nelson Mandela proposed Monday that a ``peace park″ be built in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, one of the Cold War’s last frontiers.

Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president of South Africa, made the suggestion at a dinner with fellow prize winner South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, government officials said.

Kim said he would relay the proposal to North Korea and discuss it, the presidential press service said.

``If we move forward with the spirit of reconciliation and generosity your excellency showed, I believe there will be a bigger advancement in our history of reconciliation and cooperation (between the two Koreas),″ Kim said at the dinner.

Also Monday, Mandela toured an exhibit of photographs, books and sculptures dedicated to him.

``All this makes me feel close to South Korea, which has been fully democratized,″ Mandela said in front of a sculpture of him holding the prison bars in a solitary cell.

A fighter against racial separation, or apartheid, Mandela, now 82, lived 18 of his 27 years in prison in a solitary cell in South Africa.

Mandela flew into Seoul on Saturday for his first meeting with Kim.

Although they had never met, the two men kept in touch from afar. In 1995, Kim translated Mandela’s autobiography, ``Long Walk to Freedom,″ into Korean.

When Kim ran for president two years later, he received a special gift from Mandela: an old wristwatch with a cracked leather band that Mandela wore in prison. Mandela hoped it would bring good luck to Kim, who went on to win the election.

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