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Cross-over: Koreas hold high-level talks on inter-Korean issues

Updated: 2014-02-12 17:59:29 (KST)
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Happening now this evening
A fresh round of inter-Korean talks,
For the first time in SEVEN years, senior officials from South and North Korea are locked in high-level engagement at the border truce village of Panmunjom.
The meeting comes about a week ahead of the much-anticipated reunions for families separated since the Korean War.
For more, we connect live to our correspondent Hwang Sung-hee who's been following the rare event since the early morning hours at the Unification Ministry.
Sung-hee, what's the latest out of the talks?

South Korean Chief Delegate Kim Kyou-hyun and his North Korean counterpart Won Dong-yon have been engaged in a separate discussion for nearly one hour now, but it looks like they are still trying to narrow down their differences.
The two sides have only held two sessions -- the opening session and the afternoon session -- and one separate discussion between the chief delegates since 10 a.m. today.
Some are pointing to a lack of communication at today's talks, but an official at the Unification Ministry said the two Koreas are not at the stage of reaching an agreement yet as they came to the meeting with different interests in mind.
Experts say the Koreas may not be able to reach an agreement today, but rather set a date for additional talks down the road.

Since the talks are happening behind closed doors, I guess it's all up to speculation at this point on what topics are being discussed. But, Sung-hee, what would likely be on the table?

It's very rare for the two Koreas to meet for talks without a fixed agenda.
The South Korean chief delegate told reporters this morning that the South will focus on making sure the upcoming family reunions take place as planned.
The Koreas are scheduled to resume the reunions from February 20th to the 25th, and if held, it will be the first such event in more than three years.
However, the reunion event won't be North Korea's top priority at today's meeting.
Experts say Pyongyang will be seeking to stop the upcoming joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington, scheduled to begin at the end of this month.
South Korea and the U.S. say the drills are defensive in nature, but the North views them as a practice for war and has repeatedly called for the exercises to be canceled.
North Korea had earlier threatened to reconsider its agreement to hold the family reunions, should the joint military exercises take place as planned.
Some are even speculating that the officials may even be discussing a possible inter-Korean summit.
So it's really anybody's guess, for now.

Alright, that was our unification ministry correspondent Hwang Sung-hee with the latest on the first high-level talks between the two Koreas in seven years.


Reporter : ssung86@arirang.co.kr

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