North and South Korea agree to resume talks in Seoul | News | DW | 04.10.2014
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North and South Korea agree to resume talks in Seoul

South Korea reports that North Korean officials who made a surprise visit have agreed to hold a second round of high-level talks with Seoul. The news comes after months of military tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Top North Korean officials agreed on Saturday to resume a high-level dialogue with the South that has stalled since February, according to South Korean media and the Unification Ministry in Seoul.

The talks would be held in the coming weeks, media reported.

The agreement came after the three officials, including North Korea's de facto No. 2, made a surprise visit ahead of the closing ceremony of the Asian Games, holding the highest-level face-to-face talks with the South in five years.

The North Korean delegation was led by Hwang Pyong So (left in photo), the newly elected vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, who is widely seen as the country's second most important official after leader Kim Jong Un. With him were two other top-ranking officials: Choe Ryong Hae, one of the supreme leader's confidants, and Kim Yang Gon, who heads the ruling party's United Front Department, which is in charge of affairs related to South Korea.

"We have come here in the hope that this opportunity will provide a chance for the North and the South to strengthen their relations," Kim Yang Gon said.

'Important opportunity'

South Korean National Security Adviser Kim Kwan-jin described Saturday's visit as an important opportunity.

"As we have here people with very special positions in the North, we should make efforts to push relations forward," Kim Kwan-jin said.

The other top South Korean official at the talks was Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-lae (right in photo).

The meeting and the agreement it has reportedly produced mark a major turnaround after months of cross-border tensions that have seen the North carrying out a number of rocket and missile launches into the Sea of Japan.

The two Koreas have remained technically at war since the end of the 1950-53 conflict pitting the communist North against the capitalist South.

At the Asian Games, which began on September 19, North Korea won at least 11 gold medals with some events remaining, far in excess of what had been expected.

tj/mkg (AFP, AP)