South Korean officials depart for a rare high-level talks with North Korea
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 00:55
Feb. 12 - South Korean officials leave Seoul for a rare meeting at the border with their North Korean counterparts. Rough Cut (No Reporter Narration)
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STORY: South Korean officials left for the truce village Panmunjom at the border on Wednesday (February 12) to hold a rare high-level meeting with North Korea, where the two sides were expected to discuss issues including planned reunions of separated families.
Before the departure, South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae, held a meeting with the South Korean delegation.
The South Korean delegation headed by Kim Kyou-hyun, Vice Chief of the presidential National Security Council, said he would try to find a way to improve ties with the North.
The North proposed the meeting in a message sent on Saturday (February 8), the South Korean Unification Ministry, in charge of inter-Korean relations, said on Tuesday (February 11).
From the North side, Won Tong Yon, a senior official at the Workers' Party of Korea's United Front Department that handles affairs with the South, will head its delegation, the ministry said.
It will be the highest-level contact between the rivals since 2007 when the two Koreas held the second summit meeting and the first such dialogue since the North bombed a South Korean island in 2010 that sharply raised tensions.
The meeting comes amid a long-standing disagreement surrounding annual military drills conducted by the United States and South Korea that are scheduled to start later this month, which the North insists is a rehearsal for war.
Pyongyang and Seoul have agreed to hold reunions of families separated by the Korean War this month at North Korea's Mount Kumgang resort just north of the border, seen as a rare confidence building move.
But North Korea has threatened to cancel the event citing a nuclear-capable U.S. B-52 bomber sortie last week.
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