North and South Korea seek better ties at rare high-level talks

Wednesday 12 February 2014 11.52
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Representatives of both sides shake hands before the talks in Panmunjom (Pic: EPA)
Representatives of both sides shake hands before the talks in Panmunjom (Pic: EPA)
The North Korean delegation walks across the demarcation line
The North Korean delegation walks across the demarcation line

North and South Korea held their first high-level talks in seven years on their armed border.

The talks examined ways to improve ties while the South and the United States gear up for large-scale military drills that have angered the North.

The meeting was set up with unusual speed and great secrecy at the North's suggestion last week.

The two sides met at the Panmunjom truce village on the border with no pre-arranged agenda.

They discussed a range of issues including reunions of families separated during their 1950-53 Korean War, a South Korean official said.

The North has demanded that the South and the US scrap the military drills, which are due to start later this month.

In a video provided by the South Korean Unification Ministry, the North Korean delegation walked across the demarcation line to meet their South Korean counterparts.

North Korea sent the second-highest ranking official in the ruling Workers' Party department charged with ties with the South.

The South Korean delegation was led by President Park Geun-hye's deputy national security adviser.

The meeting comes a week before the two sides are scheduled to hold reunions of family members separated since the war at the Mount Kumgang resort just inside the North.

However, the North has threatened to cancel the reunions, citing a sortie last week by a nuclear-capable US B-52 bomber near the Korean peninsula.