North Korea, busy preparing for a new round of inter-Korean family reunions this month, offered Saturday to hold ministerial peace talks with South Korea next month, officials said.
"The North proposed that the inter-Korean ministerial talks open in Pyongyang for four days from December 12," South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Kwan-Sei said.
The offer came one day after the South proposed to open the talks on November 28, the fourth round since an inter-Korean summit five months ago.
North Korea, in a telephone message sent by chief delegate Jon Kum-Jin, could not take the South's offer as the talks would "overlap the reunion of separated families" to start on Thursday, Lee said.
He added the North agreed that South Korean delegates use a direct and temporary flight from Seoul to Pyongyang for the talks.
The South has yet to decide on the North's revised offer, but ministry sources said Seoul will likely follow Pyongyang's latest proposal.
Since the summit between South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in June, a flurry of measures have been taken to warm the icy relations and boost economic cooperation.
The inter-Korean ministerial peace talks have since served as a major channel to review progress in improving the inter-Korean ties.
Both Koreas have remained hostile to each other for decades since the peninsula's division in 1945, up until the historic summit.
In a new inter-Korean thaw, both Koreas will arrange a new round of reunions of long-lost relatives torn apart by the division from November 30 through December 2, following one in August -- SEOUL (AFP)
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