Archive for Monday, July 31, 2000

Koreas agree to continue high-level talks

July 31, 2000

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— North and South Korea took another step toward reconciliation Sunday, agreeing to hold regular high-level talks on bringing peace to their divided peninsula, the world's last Cold War frontier.

The progress was made at Cabinet-level talks in Seoul the first time a senior North Korean delegation has visited the South Korean capital since 1992. The two sides planned to wrap up the talks today by issuing a joint statement.

"The ministerial talks will keep continuing," said Kim Sun-kyu, a South Korean delegate who serves as vice minister of culture and tourism. "Both sides have found that their positions have many things in common but some working details need adjustment in their language before an announcement."

The Koreas have been bitter enemies since the division of their peninsula into the communist North and the pro-Western South in 1945. Their three-year war in the early 1950s ended without a peace treaty.

But in recent months, relations have begun to thaw. At a June summit, the leaders of the two sides agreed to work toward reconciliation and reunification.

The talks in Seoul were the latest step in that process, and chief North Korean delegate Jon Kum Jin was upbeat after two rounds of discussions Sunday.

"We cannot resolve all problems in one meeting," he said at an official dinner. "However, if the North and South both work together to implement the summit agreement, there will be no problem that we cannot solve."

The South Korean official, Kim, said both sides agreed to commemorate the June summit with a week of events around Aug. 15, the day marking Korean independence from Japanese colonialism in 1945.

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