Progress reported at Korea talks

Sides agree to hold a Cabinet-level meeting in Seoul on Wednesday, the first of its kind since 2007

South Korea’s senior unification ministry official and head of working-level delegation Chun Hae-Sung (right) shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Kim Song-Hye (left) during their meeting at Freedom House in Panmunjom, South Korea today. The sides  have agreed to hold working-level talks to prepare for a Cabinet-level meeting between the two divided countries. Photograph: South Korean Unification Miniatry via Getty Images

South Korea’s senior unification ministry official and head of working-level delegation Chun Hae-Sung (right) shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Kim Song-Hye (left) during their meeting at Freedom House in Panmunjom, South Korea today. The sides have agreed to hold working-level talks to prepare for a Cabinet-level meeting between the two divided countries. Photograph: South Korean Unification Miniatry via Getty Images

 

North and South Korea have agreed to hold a minister-level meeting on Wednesday as the two sides seek limited rapprochement following ratcheted-up rhetoric over the the North’s nuclear program earlier this year.

The two governments are working on a draft agreement for the meeting, which may last more than a day, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has reported, citing an unidentified South Korean government official.

The decision to meet later this week came during working-level discussion at the Panmunjom border village today, the two sides’ first government talks in two years, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.

Today’s talks offered new evidence of easing tensions after the North proposed last week that the sides discuss reopening the Gaeseong industrial complex, a source of much-needed hard currency for Kim Jong Un’s regime.

The North closed the complex in April as it ramped up threats including a warning of preemptive nuclear strikes after the United Nations tightened sanctions over a rocket launch in December and atomic bomb test in February.

Today’s agreement followed a meeting in California between US president Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping. The two sides found “quite a bit of alignment” on stopping North Korea’s nuclear program, White House national security adviser Tom Donilon said.

Bloomberg

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