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North and South Korea sit down to a rare round of talks at the border

Deputy ministers from North and South Korea have met to discuss the improvement of ties. The talks are the first high-level discussions following an agreement in August which ended cross-border fire.

South Korea's deputy Unification Minister Hwang Boogi met with North Korea's Jon Jong Su, a deputy director of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, at the jointly-run Kaesong industrial zone a few miles north of their border on Friday.

The agenda for Friday's talks included "issues that will improve ties" between the North and the South, according to the South Korean government.

The meeting followed an agreement in August which ended an armed stand-off across the border.

North Korea has made it known it wants cross-border tours from the South to resume to the Mount Kumgang resort. The tours were suspended in 2008.

A family reunion in October

A family reunion in October

A priority for South Korea is the organization of reunions of separated families on a regular basis. More than 60,000 elderly people are seeking relatives in the North who they have not seen in decades. Currently, only about one reunion is held each year and the number of participants is limited.

North and South Korea are still technically at war as the 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty. In early 2010 a South Korean navy ship was sunk, adding to tensions and ending ties between the two countries.

"Between South and North, there are many issues to discuss and resolve. We will do our best to work them out step by step," Hwang, the chief South Korean delegate, said ahead of the talks.

Bombs and human rights

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made an oblique claim on Thursday to the

development of a hydrogen bomb

although the Communist nation's technical capacity for developing such a device was doubted by both US and South Korean officials.

Also on Thursday, the

United Nations Security Council held its second meeting on human rights

in North Korea. This was despite the opposition of four member countries, including China.

The UN meeting was chaired by the United States. Ambassador Samantha Power said North Korea's rights abuses represented "a level of horror unrivalled in the world."

Watch video 02:12

Heartbreaking reunions in North Korea

jm/bw (AP, AFP)

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