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Koreas Discuss Joint Events to Celebrate Liberation

FILE - Participants give three cheers during a ceremony to mark the South Korean Liberation Day from Japanese colonial rule in 1945 in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 15, 2013.

Inter-Korean talks to discuss holding joint events to celebrate Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule have yet to reach a deal.

The talks between South Korean representatives from the Preparation Committee for Two Koreas Joint Liberation Day, a panel composed of private groups, and their North Korean counterparts were held Thursday in the North Korean border town of Kaesong.

The two sides differed over how to proceed with the events commemmorating Korea’s liberation, which was gained at the end of World War II when Japan surrendered to Allied forces on August 15, 1945.

According to sources familiar with the subject, the South proposed to hold events in Seoul and Pyongyang simultaneously, with representatives of the two sides attending each other’s events. The North did not respond to the proposal, asking the South to send a delegation to Pyongyang’s three-day event slated to begin August 13.

Lee Seung-hwan, spokesperson for the South Korean representatives to the committee, who participated in the talks, told VOA both sides agreed to continue the discussions next week despite the differences.

“For now, we just listened to each other’s idea and requests. We can deliberate until the next meeting, which is slated for July 31,” Lee said.

The two sides are expected to meet again in Kaesong, according to Lee.

A senior South Korean official who asked to remain anonymous told reporters the government would actively support the joint events. Seoul's position, the official added, is that the events should not get tangled in inter-Korean politics.

In May, representatives from the two sides agreed to hold a joint event in Seoul in June to celebrate the anniversary of a landmark statement signed by leaders of the two Koreas during the 2000 inter-Korean summit. Later, the North canceled the events in what appeared to be a protest over political relations with the South.

Last week, North and South Korea held the first government-to-government talks this year to try to resolve a wage dispute at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, but they failed to reach an agreement.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report.