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updated 12/11/2007 6:16:37 PM ET 2007-12-11T23:16:37

The New York Philharmonic plans to perform in North Korea in February, a cultural breakthrough in tense relations between the United States and the reclusive Communist nation, the orchestra's president said Monday.

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The concert will be Feb. 26, said Zarin Mehta, the Philharmonic's president and executive director. He declined to provide further details, saying a formal announcement of the trip is scheduled for Tuesday.

North Korea's Ministry of Culture sent the orchestra an invitation in August. In October, Mehta spent six days in North Korea exploring venues and other arrangements for a potential concert in Pyongyang.

By agreeing to the North Korean invitation, the Philharmonic is following a path cut by orchestras that played a role in diplomacy. In 1973, the Philadelphia Orchestra traveled to China soon after President Nixon's historic visit. In 1956, the Boston Symphony became the first American orchestra to perform in the Soviet Union.

The Philharmonic's agreement to play in North Korea was first reported Monday by The New York Times.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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