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North, South Korea Conduct Talks at Truce Village

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

The two sides met for 45 minutes Sunday morning and then adjourned to prepare for a series of afternoon meetings.

South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-Seok told reporters that the overall tone of the morning meeting was calm and the discussion proceeded with no major debates.

A South Korean official said the delegates forwarded their views on what should be discussed at Wednesday's meeting.

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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