Sat, Jun 02, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Koreas agree to military, family unification talks

AP, SEOUL

North and South Korea yesterday agreed to hold military and Red Cross talks later this month on reducing tensions and resuming reunions of families.

The rivals also agreed at a meeting of senior officials at the border village of Panmunjom to establish a liaison office at the North Korean border town of Kaesong and hold sports talks on fielding combined teams for some sports at the Asian Games in August.

South Korea said that building trust with North Korea is crucial amid a US-led diplomatic push to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons.

The high-level meeting between the Koreas followed talks in New York between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean envoy Kim Yong-chol on a possible summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

US delegations are also meeting with North Koreans at Panmunjom and in Singapore as part of efforts to plan the summit, which might take place on June 12.

The Koreas agreed to set up the liaison office at a factory park in Kaesong that had been jointly operated by the nations until the South shut it down in February 2016 after a North Korean nuclear test, the South Korean Ministry of Unification said.

The Koreas agreed to hold the military talks at Panmunjom on June 16 and the Red Cross talks on June 22 at the North’s Diamond Mountain resort.

The talks between sports officials were set for June 18 at Panmunjom, the ministry said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who met with Kim Jong-un twice in the past two months, has said progress in inter-Korean reconciliation would be a crucial part of international efforts to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea, because the North would not give up its nuclear program unless it feels its security is assured.

North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country Chairman Ri Son-gwon told Cho at the start of the meeting that the rivals should work on building “trust and consideration for each other” to carry out the agreements forged at the inter-Korean summits.

Talking to South Korean reporters ahead of yesterday’s meeting, Ri seemed irritated when asked whether North Korea sees its grievances as resolved, saying reporters must ask questions that “meet the demand of changing times.”

When asked about the potential Trump-Kim Jong-un meeting, Ri said: “Go fly to Singapore to ask that question. This is Panmunjom.”

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