North & South Korea agree to hold senior-level meeting in Seoul

Monday 10 June 2013 22.52
South Korea's senior Unification Ministry official and head of working-level delegation Chun Hae-Sung (R) shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Kim Song-Hye (L)
South Korea's senior Unification Ministry official and head of working-level delegation Chun Hae-Sung (R) shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Kim Song-Hye (L)

North Korea and South Korea have agreed to hold senior-level talks in Seoul.

The two-day meeting will focus on stalled cooperation projects.

Projects under discussion include the resumption of operations at the Kaesong joint commercial zone that was shut in April.

Details of the upcoming talks were ironed out in a nearly 17-hour negotiating session by lower-level officials.

Those discussions began the countries' first government-level meeting on the Korean Peninsula in more than two years.

The talks took place at the village of Panmunjom on their heavily armed border, where the armistice ending the three-year Korean War was signed 60 years ago next month.

That truce has never been replaced with a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula technically at war.

The agreement to hold the talks was announced in a statement early today by South Korea's Unification Ministry.

North Korea's official news agency, KCNA, also reported the agreement.

Dialogue at any level marks an improvement in the countries' abysmal ties.

The last several years have seen North Korean nuclear tests, long-range rocket launches and attacks blamed on the North that killed 50 South Koreans in 2010.

The meeting that starts next Wednesday will also include discussions on resuming South Korean tours to a North Korean mountain resort.

The reunion of separated families and other humanitarian issues will be included in the talks.

The first round of dialogue comes on the heels of a summit between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

At the summit, both leaders agreed that North Korea's nuclear programme poses a significant threat to the international community.