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S. Korea urges North to cut weapons

South Korean leaders arrived in North Korea on Tuesday, hailing a new era of peace and prosperity but urging the Stalinist state to back its pledges renouncing nuclear weapons with deeds.

North Korea said it would use the sixth round of prime ministerial talks to press the South to release political prisoners and send American troops home.

Today, Chung Won-shik and his northern counterpart, Yon Hyong-muk, will exchange ratifications of the unprecedented non-aggression and nuclear agreements reached last December between the two sides, technically at war for the past four decades.

"Tomorrow, we shall witness an exciting event _ the coming into force of two historic accords," Chung said in a banquet speech released in Seoul.

"We have finally worked out a framework for building mutual prosperity, durable peace and a single national community. Distrust, antagonism and confrontation between us now belong to the past," he said.

"It should be remembered, however, that written pledges alone will never bring peace or unification."

Chung and his 89-member entourage were driven across the border at Panmunjom and traveled by train from nearby Kaesong to Pyongyang.

North Korean Prime Minister Yon Hyong-muk predicted reunification of the peninsula in 1995, North Korea's Korean Central News Agency said.

The agency, monitored in Tokyo, said he was speaking at a party for the southern delegation Tuesday evening.