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N. Korea Gig For Roger Clinton

President Clinton's crooning half-brother Roger arrived in the North Korean capital Pyongyang on Thursday with his rhythm and blues band and was expected to perform at a pop concert in the Stalinist state.

Â"Pop singer Roger Clinton, brother of the U.S. President, and his party arrived here today to visit the DPRK (North Korea) on the invitation of the Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee,Â" said the official Korean Central News Agency, monitored in Tokyo.

The U.S. said Washington is not involved, but that it generally did not oppose such visits by Americans.

Â"As a rule, we do not oppose cultural exchangesÂ" with North Korea, the State Department said in a statement Wednesday, adding: Â"The U.S. government has no official connection with this event.Â"

An official with Korecom, a private advertising agency in Seoul, said Roger Clinton's band and 40 South Korean entertainers and staff left Beijing earlier on Thursday for Pyongyang ahead of Sunday's concert at a 2,000-seat arts theatre.

Korecom said last month that Roger was invited to perform with North and South Korean pop singers at the concert.

Organizers said Clinton and South Korean singers agreed to perform for free, and they've denied news reports that North Korea will get $600,000 for use of its facilities.

The concert was scheduled to be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday and would be taped for later airing by the Seoul Broadcasting System.

Roger Clinton and his band performed at a concert last November in Seoul when President Clinton visited for talks with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.

South and North Korea have remained technically at war since the Korean War ended in an armed truce in 1953.

Government permission is required for any contact between the two and such contact is strictly limited.

The United States, a traditional ally of South Korea, has recently taken steps to ease longstanding bans on trade with its old Cold War foe.

Seoul has been encouraging economic, sports and other exchanges with rival North Korea to reduce tension on the divided Korean peninsula. For decades, the communist North has shielded its population from influence from the capitalist South and the rest of the world.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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