SEOUL: North and South Korea will hold rare high-level government talks on Wednesday, the South’s Unification Ministry announced, ahead of a planned reunion of family members divided by the Korean War.
The meeting involving senior officials from the South’s Defense Ministry, Unification Ministry and Presidential Office will take place at the border truce village of Panmunjom, unification ministry spokesman Kim Eui-Do told reporters.
Although no agenda has been set, the talks will involve “discussions on major inter-Korean issues” including the upcoming family reunion, Kim said.
In the past, Seoul has insisted that substantive talks can only take place after Pyongyang makes a tangible commitment to abandoning its nuclear weapons program.
The South Korean delegation will be led by Kim Kyou-Hyun, the first deputy director of national security in President Park Geun-Hye’s administration. North Korean state media did not immediately report the planned meeting. But the unification ministry said Pyongyang had asked for the meeting to discuss overall inter-Korean ties.
The two Koreas agreed last week to hold a reunion for several hundred divided family relatives from February 20 to 25 at the North’s Kumgang mountain resort.
But there have been fears the North might cancel the event in protest at South Korea and the United States pushing ahead with annual joint military exercises, which begin on February 24.
Pyongyang views the exercises as rehearsals for invasion and has repeatedly called on Seoul to call them off, warning at one point of an “unimaginable holocaust” if they went ahead.
President Park has personally urged the North to honour the reunion agreement for the sake of the family members, many of whom are in advanced old age and frail health.