Seoul, Pyongyang hold ministerial-level meeting

Seoul, Dec 11 (IANS) South Korea and North Korea (DPRK) on Friday began a vice ministerial-level meeting in Pyongyang’s border city of Kaesong.

The meeting began at 10.40 a.m. (local time) to discuss various pending issues between Seoul and Pyongyang, Xinhua quoted South Korea’s unification ministry as saying.

Seoul’s three-member delegation was led by Vice Unification Minister Hwang Boo-gi, and NOrth Korea counterpart Jon Jong-su, vice director of the secretariat of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.

“There are many issues between the South and the North to be discussed and addressed. I’ll make best efforts to resolve them one by one in a calm and orderly way,” said Hwang.

It marked the first inter-governmental dialogue between the two Koreas since South Korean President Park Geun-hye took office in early 2013 to discuss a comprehensive range of inter-Korean issues.

Senior-level inter-Korean talks were held in February last year and August this year, but those were held to talk about urgent issues.

The issues included the reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War and landmines explosion and a rare exchange of artillery fire in August.

Top-level military officials of the two Koreas reached an agreement on August 25 to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula following a surge in tensions that had pushed the peninsula to the brink of armed conflicts.

Under the agreement, the two sides agreed to hold an inter-governmental dialogue in Seoul or Pyongyang at an earliest possible date.

South Korea has allegedly called for North Korea to agree upon regular reunions of the separated Korean families through the inter-governmental talks.

Pyongyang has wanted the resumption of tour to North Korea’s scenic resort of Mount Kumgang.

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

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