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North-South Korea Talks Stall on Broader Peace Goals 


Senior officials from North and South Korea wrapped up talks Friday by announcing more exchanges as well as a commitment to change how they of think about one another. But the discussions fell short of the more ambitious steps toward a formal peace Seoul hoped to achieve.

In a joint statement Friday, senior ministers from North and South Korea concluded four days of talks promising to "scrap outdated mindset and practices."

North Korea's chief delegate to the Pyongyang talks, Kwon Ho-woong, was upbeat about the meeting.

Mr. Kwon says the two Koreas have an opportunity to depart from the Cold War, and to allow each side to respect the other's ideology and system.

Communist North Korea invaded capitalist South Korea in 1950. The two Koreas have never replaced the 1953 armistice that halted fighting with a permanent peace treaty. South Korea's proposals to take steps toward a treaty went unfulfilled this week.

North Korea also rebuffed the South's offers to initiate direct meetings between defense ministers, and to establish permanent liaison offices in Seoul and Pyongyang. The North repeated its long-standing demand that South Korea end joint military exercises with the United States. Washington maintains about 32,000 forces here to deter another North Korean invasion.

Pyongyang also insisted South Korea revoke its National Security Law, which strictly limits any activities in the South viewed as sympathetic to the North Korean government.

This week's meeting did produce some progress on bilateral exchanges. Friday's joint statement commits the two countries to more minister-level talks in December on South Korea's Jeju island. It also promises another round of video reunions between separated families via a fiber optic link set up last month. Millions of Korean families remain separated by the heavily fortified border established after the 1950's war.

This week talks in Pyongyang were the 16th high-level meeting between the two Koreas since a historic 2000 summit between the two countries' leaders. The meeting took place in the shadow of nuclear disarmament talks in Beijing, and most of Seoul's hopes for advances in Pyongyang were contingent on progress in the Chinese capital.

China, Russia, Japan, the United States and South Korea have been trying to coax North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs in exchange for security, economic, and diplomatic incentives. The negotiations appeared stalled Friday over Pyongyang's demand that it be given a light-water nuclear reactor to produce electricity.

South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young expressed regret Friday over the apparent lack of progress in the Beijing talks.

Mr. Chung says he is sorry to hear that the talks are not producing the desired results.