North & South Korea Agree to High-Level Talks Next Month

Ministry of Unification

According to AFP, working-level officials from South and North Korea met at the truce village of Panmunjeom, Thursday, to discuss preparations for envisioned high-level talks in line with the inter-Korean agreement reached on Aug. 25.

“We’ll make sure the working-level dialogue will help the Aug. 25 agreement gain momentum,” said Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo after sending off the South Korean delegates to Panmunjeom.

Hong, Seoul’s point man on inter-Korean affairs, was one of the high-level officials who participated in reaching the August accord to defuse military tension along the border.

Kim Ki-woong, the chief of the three-member South Korean delegation, said “I’ll put my utmost efforts to faithfully implement what the two Koreas agreed back in August.”

The North Korean side was headed by Hwang Chol, a senior official of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF), the North’s government body dealing with inter-Korean affairs.

The working-level dialogue began at 12:50 p.m.(local time) in Tongilgak, a conference building on the North Korean side of the Joint Security Area in Panmunjeom.

The two sides initially planned to begin their meeting at 10:30 a.m. but were delayed due to technical problems in establishing a communication line across the Demilitarized Zone.

The meeting was aimed at discussing a wide range of issues that are needed in preparation for the high-level talks, such as time, venue, agenda items and level of representatives present.

Reuters reported, the talks are a fresh attempt at dialogue between the rivals, which have all but cut off ties since 2010, when a South Korean navy ship was destroyed by a torpedo that Seoul said was fired from a North Korean submarine. Pyongyang denies any role.

The North also bombed a South Korean island later that year, blaming Seoul for provoking it by firing into its territorial waters during a military exercise.

“The agenda will be issues that will improve relations between the South and the North,” the statement issued after the talks said.

As part of the August agreement, the two sides held reunions last month of families separated during the 1950-53 Korean war. North and South Korea are technically still at war because the conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

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