Two Koreas agree to have high-level talks on Dec.11

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Two Koreas agree to have high-level talks on Dec.11

South and North Korea agreed on Thursday to hold high-level talks next month as part of efforts to seek improvement in inter-Korean ties. Three officials from each side sat together at the truce village of Panmunjom Thursday afternoon to decide on the details of the high-level talks and agreed to have vice-ministerial talks in Kaesong in the North on Dec.11.

“South and North Korea agreed to send a delegation led by a vice-ministerial official for high-level talks,” said Jeong Joon-hee, spokesman of the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean matter at 1 a.m. Friday. He added the priority for the Dec.11 talks will be improvement in ties.

He said that Seoul addressed on the urgency of holding regular reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korea War at the working-level talks while the North demanded the resumption of Mount Kumgang tour, which has been halted since July 2008 when a South Korean tourist was fatally shot by a North Korean soldier.

The agreement came after nearly 12 hours of talks between the two sides. Kim Ki-woong, head of the Unification Ministry’s special office for inter-Korean talks, led Seoul’s delegation while the North’s was led by Hwang Chol, a senior official on the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.

Kaesong is where the two sides run a joint industrial complex across the border where 124 South Korean companies employ over 54,000 North Korean workers, a last vestige of inter-Korean business cooperation.

The working-level talks and scheduled vice-ministerial talks are all part of efforts to deliver on a joint Aug. 25 agreement that called for holding reunions and improving inter-Korean ties through bolstering exchanges. The August agreement eased rising tensions on the peninsula that brought the two Koreas to the brink of an armed conflict along the heavily fortified border.


BY KANG JIN-KYU [Kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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