Two Koreas agree to resume formal high-level talks: South

AFP , Saturday 4 Oct 2014

Korean Talks
Kim Yang Gon, left, a secretary of North Korea’s ruling Workers' Party, shakes hands with South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae upon his arrival at a hotel in Incheon, South Korea, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 (Photo: AP)

North and South Korea agreed Saturday to work on resuming a formal high-level dialogue that has effectively been suspended for seven months, the South's Unification Ministry said.

The agreement came during a surprise visit to South Korea by three top-ranking North Korean officials, two of them close aides to paramount leader Kim Jong-Un.

"The two sides agreed to discuss details for the resumption of the high-level contact," the Unification Ministry said in a statement.

Seoul has been urging the North to resume the talks for several months, but until now Pyongyang had spurned the request, partly in irritation over recent South Korea-US joint military drills.

The ministry statement said the North Korean officials had expressed a "willingness" to restart the dialogue between late October and early November.

The last high-level talks were held in Seoul in February and resulted in the North hosting a rare reunion for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The talks had fuelled hopes of further constructive engagement, but those were dashed as the two rivals entered one of their regular periods of elevated military tension.

The Unification Ministry statement also noted that President Park Geun-Hye had wanted to meet the visiting North delegates on Saturday, but the tight schedule of their sudden visit did not allow for a trip to the presidential Blue House.

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