News / Asia

High-Level Korean Talks to Resume After Six Years

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, second from left, presides over a security meeting to discuss the upcoming South and North Korea talks at the presidential house in Seoul,  June 10, 2013.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, second from left, presides over a security meeting to discuss the upcoming South and North Korea talks at the presidential house in Seoul, June 10, 2013.
South Korean officials are expressing hope resuming high-level talks with the rival North - scheduled for Seoul on Wednesday will lead to a significant thawing of tension on the peninsula.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye is expressing hope about the first high-level dialogue with the North that her government will host.

Park on Monday, in a weekly meeting with senior secretaries, said she is looking to Wednesday's talks proceeding in a “forward-moving manner.”

The last such high-level encounter took place in 2007. That was before relations between the two Koreas - which have no diplomatic ties - deteriorated under Park's predecessor, Lee Myung-bak. He had pledged to link aid for the impoverished North with progress through international diplomacy to end Pyongyang's nuclear programs.

The two Koreas held marathon talks with mid-level officials at the Panmunjom truce village Sunday through early Monday.

They reached partial agreement on an agenda, which is to include how to revive two stalled inter-Korean joint ventures in the North: the Kaesong Industrial Zone and the Mt. Keumgang tourism complex. They also agreed to discuss resuming meetings of separated families on the peninsula.

Beyond that, there was a lack of harmony, according to a Unification Ministry senior official, Chun Hae-sung.

Chun says there was no agreement on the level of the delegation and on several agenda items and that is why Seoul and Pyongyang have issued separate statements.

The North says the Seoul discussions will also include how to commemorate previous joint statements and declarations from 1972 and 2002, as well as “private traffic and contact and the pursuit of collaborative efforts.”

South Korea's Unification Ministry, after the Sunday-morning session at Panmunjom, had said agreement had been reached for direct ministerial dialogue in Seoul. But, by the next morning, that characterization had been watered down to “inter-Korean authorities' talks.”

Some analysts quickly inferred the South had given in to the North's refusal to commit to officially deeming it “ministerial talks.”

A North Korean radio announcer read Pyongyang's version of what was supposed to have been a joint news release (as the eighth item) in the 7 a.m. Monday newscast.

The announcer says each delegation will be comprised of five members, with the North's delegation headed by a “minister-level person in authority.” But it did not name who that would be.

Media reports in Seoul say South Korean officials pressed the North to agree to send Kim Yan Gon, director of the United Front Department, perceived as a relative moderate on inter-Korean issues.

Ministers of the two Koreas met frequently between 2000 and 2007 but not since then.

Last week, the Communist North called for a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue after it engaged in a period of intense bellicose rhetoric and provocative nuclear and missile tests, which sent tensions on the peninsula to the highest level in decades.

Pyongyang also expressed anger about joint U.S.-South Korean annual military drills that, this year, included publicized flights of American bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

The direct discussions mark a significant reversal for the North, which is under international sanctions for its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development.

The three-year Korean conflict ended in 1953 with a truce rather than a peace treaty, technically leaving the peninsula in a state of war.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid