Tags: Koreas | Agree | Resume | Peace | Talks

Koreas Agree to Resume Peace Talks

Thursday, 06 September 2001 12:00 AM

"North Korea accepted the South's proposal to have a new round of ministerial talks from Sept. 15 to 18," Seoul's Unification Ministry said.

The North's decision came just hours after Seoul delivered the proposal, responding to Pyongyang's earlier offer to "quickly" resume government-level talks, the ministry said.

"We accept your proposal, hoping that the upcoming talks will produce good results respecting the spirit of (last year's) June 15 joint (summit) declaration and living up to the expectations of the whole nation," the ministry quoted the North's telegram as saying.

The proposed dialogue will mark the end of the six-month freeze in inter-Korean reconciliation.

Inter-Korea exchanges flourished after last year's summit, which produced the historic agreement in which leaders of the two rivals pledged to work together toward reconciliation, cooperation and eventual reunification of the Korean peninsula. It was the strongest move yet toward peace on the divided peninsula that still remains in a state of technical war since their 1950-53 conflict ended without a peace treaty.

Under the summit agreement, the two sides held four rounds of ministerial talks as the key inter-Korean dialogue channel to review their reconciliation efforts and discuss cooperation projects, including the reconnection of cross-border roads and railways.

Defense ministers from both sides met for the first time and discussed ways to ease military tensions in Korea. Red Cross societies arranged three temporary reunions of separated relatives, which touched off unprecedented reconciliation and unification fever across the peninsula. But in March, the North pulled out of planned talks and reconciliation events with no valid explanation.

Seoul hopes the new talks will produce substantial progress. "The resumed dialogue will focus on implementing the agreements reached at previous talks," said Vice Unification Minister Kim Hyong-gi. They include the railroad project, the construction of a large-scale industrial park in the North's southern city and joint tour programs, he said.

But some analysts ruled out major breakthroughs in the upcoming talks because the South Korean government was suffering setback over controversy on its reconciliatory policy toward North Korea.

The National Assembly this week passed a no-confidence motion against the key minister in charge of relations with Pyongyang for approving leftist activists to travel to the communist country despite fears that they would bed used for Pyongyang's political propaganda.

Officials said a Unification Minister will be named Friday to lead Seoul's delegates to next week's talks in Seoul. Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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North Korea accepted the South's proposal to have a new round of ministerial talks from Sept. 15 to 18, Seoul's Unification Ministry said. The North's decision came just hours after Seoul delivered the proposal, responding to Pyongyang's earlier offer to quickly resume...
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Thursday, 06 September 2001 12:00 AM
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