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25 February, 2008 - Published 12:01 GMT
NY Philharmonic visits North Korea
The New York Philharmonic orchestra has arrived in North Korea, for what has been described as a remarkable display of cultural diplomacy. The orchestra hopes this week's concert in Pyongyang will help ease tensions with the communist state. This report from John Sudworth:
The concert will be the most prominent cultural exchange between the United States and North Korea in the isolated country's history. It comes amid the ongoing diplomatic push to persuade it to give up its nuclear weapons, and the Pyongyang performance has the blessing of the US government.
But others argue that a visit by such a distinguished institution as the New York Philharmonic gives the North Korean state an air of respectability it doesn't deserve. One New York tabloid has called the venture a disgrace.
Before accepting the invitation the Orchestra says it insisted the concert should begin with the United States' national anthem. It's not yet known whether the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, will be in the audience to hear it.
John Sudworth, BBC News, Seoul
the most prominent cultural exchange
amid the ongoing diplomatic push to persuade
has the blessing of
a distinguished institution as
an air of respectability it doesn't deserve
called the venture a disgrace
in the audience