NSC evaluates high-level talks

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NSC evaluates high-level talks

The National Security Council (NSC) convened a meeting Saturday to evaluate the senior-level talks held the previous day between the two Koreas.

Kim Jang-soo, the national security chief, presided over the third NSC standing committee meeting at the Blue House, where officials analyzed recent moves by Pyongyang, the regime’s motives following a recent peace gesture, and how Seoul should respond.

The meeting was attended by key national security officials, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se, Minister of Unification Ryoo Kihl-jae, Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin and National Intelligence Service Director Nam Jae-joon.

The rare senior-level inter-Korea talks held last week on Wednesday and Friday were the crux of the discussion. A Blue House official said the NSC meeting was to “report on and analyze the high-level talks with North and South Korea and discuss future policies.”

South Korea’s chief negotiator for the talks with the North, Kim Kyou-hyun, head of the NSC secretariat, reported to the committee discussions he had with North Korean officials.

The two Koreas agreed on Friday to hold reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War next week as scheduled.

This comes despite the South Korea-U.S. joint military drills are moving forward. The North previously demanded during talks on Wednesday and on other occasions that they be delayed or canceled.

Pyongyang has long objected to the annual drills Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, which are scheduled to take place in South Korean territory starting Feb. 24. The exercises will run until April 18.

Traditionally, February to April has often been a time of increased tension between the Koreas.

The Wednesday inter-Korea meeting was the first in seven years since a Blue House official attended talks with North Korea.

The official added that while there were not specific talks about what sort of aid the South will give the North, “President Park [Geun-hye] has consistently emphasized [providing] humanitarian aid, and the Unification Ministry will seek out what can be done.”

President Park has not yet given an official response on the inter-Korea talks.

On the same day, a group of 15 South Korean officials headed to North Korea in preparation for the scheduled family reunions, which run from Feb. 20 to Feb. 25, and visited Mount Kumgang, where the event will be held, according to the South Korean Red Cross.

North Korea yesterday was busy celebrating the birthday anniversary of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. His son, Kim Jong-un, visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang to mark the occasion.

The North’s official news outlet, the Korean Central News Agency, reported yesterday that several key military officials were promoted to coincide with this celebration, which would have been Kim Jong-il’s 72nd birthday.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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