North Korea, South Korea Agree to Talks

Thursday, 06 Jun 2013 04:04 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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North Korea reached out to South Korea this week, asking to open talks about a closed industrial park that is run by both countries. No mention was made of any discussions about North Korea’s nuclear program, which is a divisive issue throughout the world. Seoul immediately agreed to the request.

Discussions will focus on the Kaesong Industrial zone, which was shut down in April when North Korea pulled 53,000 of its workers out of the area. They were employed by about 120 South Korean manufacturers, according to the BBC News Asia.

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North Korea pulled the workers as relations between the two countries deteriorated, particularly after a February nuclear arms test by North Korea.

The talks will be the first time North Korea has agreed to enter into discussions with South Korea since Kim Jong Un took over in December 2011 as the North's leader. The two countries have a long history of hostilities.

The talks also will focus on restarting tourist exchanges and reuniting separated families, the Chicago Tribune reported. The newspaper said a foreign policy analyst attributed North Korea’s willingness to open discussions to pressure from the Chinese government to do so, and also because of the critical importance of dropping war tactics and establishing a working relationship between the two countries.

The offer to reopen talks came the day before a U.S.-China summit. North Korea was expected to be an important topic of that event, along with equally difficult topics like Chinese cyberespionage, according to the USA Today. The meeting will be Obama’s first with Chinese president Xi Jinping since Xi took office in March.

Xi has been pushing a new slogan for the country’s collective aspirations: the “Chinese dream.” He has also called for a new sort of “great power relationship” with the U.S., according to USA Today. The two presidents will meet in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at Sunnylands for two days.

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Related stories:

U.S. Says It Takes North Korea Threats Seriously

South Warns North Korea May Be Preparing Nuclear Detonation

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