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North, South Korea Meet for First Time in Nearly a Year

North and South Korea have resumed high-level talks Monday for the first time in 10 months. Seoul used the meeting to urge Pyongyang to return to negotiations over its nuclear program. The talks come as tensions are rising over a possible nuclear test by North Korea.

South Korea says it is ready to make an "important" offer to the North if it returns to negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs. After Monday's session, South Korean officials say their Northern counterparts listened to Seoul's position but did not make any comments on the nuclear issue.

South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said he hopes the two-day meeting would help settle the problem peacefully.

The meeting comes at a time when tensions are high regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. Last week, Pyongyang claimed it had completed removing spent fuel rods from a reactor at its main nuclear complex - a process that could allow it to harvest more weapons-grade plutonium - and said it would strengthen its nuclear arsenal.

U.S. officials said last week there are indications Pyongyang may be preparing for a nuclear test. On Sunday, U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley warned Pyongyang against that, and said Washington would take unspecified action should a test occur. Washington has not ruled out bringing the issue to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.

On Monday, Washington's top envoy to North Korea nuclear talks, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, met with South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon to continue pushing for a resumption.

"We do not have an option of not succeeding," said Mr. Hill. "We must succeed."

Diplomatic initiatives by the United States, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia to disarm North Korea have resulted in little progress after nearly two years. These six-party talks have been stalled since last year.

During the talks Monday in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, South Korea agreed to provide fertilizer to its impoverished Stalinist rival. Contacts between the two sides broke off in July after mass defections of North Koreans to the South, which Pyongyang says were kidnappings.