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Two Koreas begin senior-level talks as scheduled

English.news.cn   2014-02-12 11:17:05

SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) began a senior-level inter- Korean dialogue, the first time in about seven years, at the border village of Panmunjeom on Wednesday.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said that five delegates from both sides started the high-level dialogue around 10 a.m. local time in the Peace House, the South Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjeom as scheduled.

Kim Kyou-hyun, Seoul's chief delegate and first deputy chief of the presidential national security office, told reporters before heading to the dialogue venue that he will meet with his DPRK counterpart with "an open mind and attitude to explore the chance of opening a new Korean Peninsula."

Kim said that he will focus on the family reunion event to be held as agreed this month, noting that no agenda was decided on the dialogue table.

The DPRK delegation will be led by Won Dong-yon, deputy head of the United Front Department of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

The inter-Korean talks between high-ranking officials is the first since May 2007, when the two Koreas held their last high- level meeting. The two Koreas originally planned to hold the inter- governmental dialogue in June 2013, but the DPRK unilaterally cancelled the meeting, citing the low rank of chief delegate that South Korea planned to sent to the dialogue table.

The vice ministerial-level officials from both sides will discuss overall inter-Korean affairs, with no specific agenda being selected in advance.

The five-member delegation from South Korea is expected to bring issues of regularly holding the family reunion and successfully staging the agreed family reunion this month to the dialogue table, while stressing the need for the DPRK's abandonment of its nuclear weapons program to make fundamental progress in inter-Korean relations.

Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to hold the reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War from Feb. 20 to 25 at the DPRK 's scenic resort of Mount Kumgang.

The DPRK delegation is expected to demand cancellation of the joint annual military exercises between Seoul and Washington, while bringing on the agenda resuming tour to the Mount Kumgang resort in the DPRK's southeast coast.

The tour, launched in 1998, was halted in July 2008 when a South Korean female tourist was shot dead by a DPRK soldier after venturing into an off-limit area.

Last Thursday, Pyongyang repeated its call for the cancellation of the South Korea-U.S. annual military drills, saying that dialogue and the rehearsal for war of aggression can never be compatible.

Combined forces of South Korea and the United States will conduct the "Key Resolve" and "Foal Eagle" war games from Feb. 24 to April 18, dates that overlap for two days with the family reunion event.

Editor: Fu Peng
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