North and S Korea set for high-level talks

North and S Korea set for high-level talks

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The meeting will take place at the Peace House, which sits in the border village of Panmunjom

North and South Korea have begun high-level talks, the first between the countries in two years.

The meeting started at 10:00 local time (01:00 GMT) at the Peace House in the truce village of Panmunjom.

The talks will focus on North Korea’s possible participation in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, taking place in South Korea in February.

South Korea also said it would raise ways to improve inter-Korean relations.

Relations between the Koreas deteriorated after Seoul suspended a joint economic project at the Kaesong Industrial complex in North Korea following a rocket launch and nuclear test by the North.

The incident led to North Korea breaking off communications with Seoul, including cutting off telephone contact. The last high-level talks between the two countries were in December 2015.

Tensions have risen in the years since as the North continues to rapidly advance its banned weapons programme.

Focus on the Olympics

On Monday, Seoul’s unification minister re-iterated that the Olympics would be the “focus” of the talks, but added that other issues would be raised.

“When discussing inter-Korean relations, the government will seek to raise the issue of war-torn families and ways to ease military tensions,” said Cho Myoung-gyon, who will be leading the five-member delegation to the talks.

The North will also be sending a delegation of five, led by Ri Son-gwon, the chairman of North Korea’s state agency in charge of affairs with the South.

Mr Ri is known as a veteran negotiator who has been leading North Korean delegations since 2006.

“Both Koreas are proceeding cautiously, but what they would like to see happen is [the meeting] becoming a springboard for further contacts and interactions,” North Korean leadership expert Michael Madden told the BBC.

“What we’re seeing are the baby steps of incremental rapprochement.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

North Korea cut off communication with the South in 2016

The delegates will meet in a village that lies in the heavily guarded demilitarised zone (DMZ) and is where the two sides have historically held talks.

What is the significance of Panmunjom?

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionTensions are high between the two warring countries

After the Kore

Read More

Add your comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.