North, South Korea set to hold official talks

Featured Korea - June 7th, 2013

South Korea accepted North Korea’s offer to hold talks in what could be the first formal dialogue between the estranged neighbors following blistering tensions on the peninsula.

Pyongyang on Thursday proposed working-level talks with Seoul, including discussions that could decide the fate of the shuttered Kaesong industrial complex and the reopening of communication channels between the two.

In a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea called on “holding talks between authorities of the North and the South for the normalization of the operation in the Kaesong.”

Talks would also include the resumption of joint tourism project in Mt. Kumgang, which was suspended when a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean guard in 2008. Resuming cross-border family reunions could also be discussed, reports AFP.

South Korea appeared to welcome the move, albeit cautiously, saying it viewed the proposal as “positive”.

Seoul’s ministry of unification said it viewed the proposal “positively”.

“I hope… dialogue will provide a momentum for South and North Korea to improve relations based on mutual trust,” South Korea’s unification minister Ryoo Kihl-Jae said.

The North, which previously refused to engage in any talks with South Korea, insisted its nuclear program is not up for negotiation.