South Korea Agrees to New Inter-Korean Parleys Next Month

Published November 27th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

South Korea on Monday agreed to hold high-level peace talks with North Korea next month on resuming the inter-Korean rapprochement stalled by a US diplomatic push. 

The South's unification ministry said four-day talks between top South and North Korean government officials would be held in Pyongyang from December 12. 

"We accepted North Korea's proposal to hold minister-level talks in Pyongyang from December 12 to 15," a ministry statement said. 

The ministerial meeting has served as a major channel to review progress in improving inter-Korean ties since a watershed summit five months ago. It will follow working-level military talks and family reunions this week. 

Both Koreas agreed to arrange a new round of reunions of long-lost relatives from November 30 to December 2, following one in August. 

Military officials from the two sides will meet Tuesday at the truce village of Panmunjom to discuss the relinking of a cross-border railway and highway. 

At the June summit, South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il agreed to move toward reconciliation and end enmity stemming from the 1950-53 civil war. 

The summit sparked a series of landmark events but talks stopped two months ago when the United States launched a new campaign to improve ties with North Korea. 

Observers say Pyongyang was seeking to sideline Seoul while focusing on overtures to Washington. 

The two Koreas need to discuss some tricky missions at the upcoming talks, including the removal of landmines from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the peninsula since 1945, to pave the way for the routes. 

All inter-Korean railways and roads have been severed for nearly five decades following the 1950-53 Korean War which ended in an armistice, yet to be transformed into a peace treaty, between both Koreas. 

The United Nations Command (UNC) has controlled the southern part of the four kilometer (2.5 mile) wide heavily-fortified DMZ since the war. 

South Korean soldiers began removing landmines from the border areas, controlled by UNC, in September. 

North Korea has delayed its work, citing the standstill in talks with the UNC over control of the land needed for the railway -- SEOUL (AFP)  

 

 

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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