North, South Korea agree to hold ministerial meet

Seoul, June 10 (IANS/RIA Novosti) North and South Korea have agreed to hold a ministerial meeting in Seoul next week which can help build mutual trust and ease tension on the Korean Peninsula, a government official said.

The two sides met Sunday for the first government-level talks in years at the truce village of Panmunjom to exchange views on the protocol, location, the agenda and size of the delegation to be present at Wednesday's ministerial meeting planned for Seoul.

"The two sides shared the same understanding in regards to the ministers' meeting," the South Korean Ministry of Unification's spokesperson Kim Hyung-suk said.

The meeting took place in a calm atmosphere, without the discussion of any particular contentious issues, the official said.

The meeting came after North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) called for working-level talks Friday following its earlier proposal to hold government-level talks to resolve issues.

The issues include the Kaesong Industrial Complex, Mount Kumgang tours and reunions of families separated by the Korean War of 1950-53.

Seoul has accepted the government-to-government talks and proposed holding a ministerial-level meeting so that all key issues can be discussed by responsible officials.

Tensions rose sharply on the Korean Peninsula in December after North Korea tested a Taepodong 2 long-range missile and again in February when it carried out its third nuclear test.

The UN slapped sanctions, and the start of joint military drills between South Korea and the US in March further irritated the North.

Later, Pyongyang suspended from April all operations at the Industrial Complex in the border city of Kaesong and pulled out all of its 53,000 staff working for the 123 South Korean companies.

Six days earlier, the North had banned South Korean personnel from entering the complex.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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