SEOUL — North and South Korean officials were to sit down on Thursday for rare talks aimed at paving the way for a sustainable high-level dialogue that has constantly eluded the two neighbours.
The meeting at the border truce village of Panmunjom marks the first inter-governmental interaction since August when the two sides met to defuse a crisis that had pushed them to the brink of an armed conflict.
That meeting ended with a joint agreement that included a commitment to resume high-level talks, although no precise timeline was given.
Thursday's talks in Panmunjom will try to avoid a repetition of that failure by thrashing out an agenda, a venue and such protocol issues as who should attend the full-fledged dialogue.
"We will do our best," said Kim Ki-woong, the head of the South Korean Unification Ministry's special office for inter-Korean dialogue.
"We are resolved to maintaining the momentum for dialogue that was started by the August agreement," Kim said before leaving Seoul for Panmunjom at the head of the three-member delegation.
Likely topics to be placed on the agenda include South Korea's desire for regular reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War that cemented the division of the Korean peninsula.
North Korea, meanwhile, will want to discuss the resumption of South Korean tour groups to its scenic Mount Kumgang resort.
The tours were suspended by the South in 2008 after a female tourist was shot dead by a North Korean guard. — AFP