ROK, DPRK agree to hold working-level talks

By Xinhua in Seoul ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-11-21 08:31:48

The Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea agreed on Friday to have working-level contact next week to discuss the timing, venue and agenda for intergovernmental talks, which the two sides had agreed to hold in late August.

The ROK's Unification Ministry said in a statement that it had accepted the DPRK offer to hold working-level contact on Thursday at the Tongil House, an administrative building on the north side of the truce village of Panmunjom.

The DPRK's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea sent the proposal notice earlier in the day to ROK's Unification Ministry, which in turn sent a consent notice to the DPRK.

The ministry said that the two sides will discuss comprehensive working-level issues during the upcoming contact, which seeks an intergovernmental dialogue.

Top-level military advisers to ROK President Park Geun-hye and top DPRK leader Kim Jong-un agreed on Aug 25 to hold an intergovernmental dialogue at the earliest possible date.

That deal came as tensions soared on the Korean Peninsula after landmine blasts in border areas, which maimed two ROK soldiers, and a rare exchange of fire across the border.

On the table at the working-level contact will be the timing, venue, agenda and the rank of chief representatives from the two sides for the intergovernmental talks.

"If the working-level contact is held, the biggest issue is expected to be who will be chief representatives from the two sides," said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the private Sejong Institute think tank.

In June 2013, the two sides had agreed to hold an intergovernmental dialogue, but it failed to materialize amid wrangling over the "rank" of the chief representatives.

Cheong said that if another dispute happen over the rank, improved relations would be hard to see in the foreseeable future.

The contact will come about three months after the agreement that defused military tensions on the peninsula that had pushed the two sides to the brink of an armed conflict.

(China Daily 11/21/2015 page12)

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