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Status of Scrapped Korean Talks Uncertain

The status of much-anticipated, high-level talks between North and South Korea remains uncertain, a day after they were called off at the last minute because of a disagreement over delegation leaders.

South Korean officials say the North refused to send officials to the talks, which were set to begin Wednesday in Seoul, because it was offended by the South's nomination of a vice-minister, rather than minister, as its chief delegate.

Just days earlier, Pyongyang had rejected Seoul's offer to hold minister-level negotiations, which the two Koreas have not held since 2007. There has been no public statement by the North on the status of the talks.

Seoul said Wednesday that North Korea is not answering an inter-governmental hotline that Pyongyang restored last week in an effort to coordinate the negotiations.



South and North Korean officials held working-level talks Sunday and early Monday in the border village of Panmunjom to try to determine the seniority of the delegation chiefs for the Seoul meeting.

Seoul and Pyongyang unexpectedly agreed last week to hold the negotiations, following weeks of heightened tensions. The two sides agreed to discuss the resumption of two stalled joint commercial projects, as well as the reunion of separated Korean families.

Some analysts said it was unlikely the discussions would touch on Pyongyang's nuclear program. Pyongyang has insisted that it will not give up the program, while the United States says abandoning the program is crucial to restoring the North's ties with the international community.

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