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North, South Korea Begin Talks at Truce Village

Delegates from North and South Korea have begun preparatory talks at the truce village of Panmunjom to set ground rules for ministerial meetings between the two foes next Wednesday at Seoul.

A South Korean official said the delegates forwarded their views on what should be discussed at the ministers' meeting and then adjourned to consider the proposals before meeting again Sunday afternoon. The morning meeting lasted 45 minutes.

Pyongyang unexpectedly offered Thursday to discuss the possible re-opening of the Kaesong industrial complex, a jointly run factory north of the border that was shuttered in April amid heightened tensions.

Pyongyang also proposed discussing the resumption of cross-border tours to the North's Mount Kumgang resort. South Korea halted visits there after the 2008 shooting death of a South Korean tourist by the North's troops.

The talks are the first held by the two Koreas in two years.



The North's statement Thursday said said humanitarian issues, such as the resumption of separated Korean families, can be discussed, "if necessary." It also promised to reconnect a severed communications hotline with Seoul at the Panmunjom truce village, if the South agreed to the talks.

Korean relations sank to their lowest level in years following Pyongyang's rocket launch in December and nuclear test in February, moves that led to expanded United Nations sanctions against the North.

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