North, South Korea Talks End with Rare Accord
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Rare talks between the rival Koreas ended on an even rarer note of agreement Friday, allowing an under-threat reunion for divided families to go ahead and fuelling hopes of further constructive engagement.
The agreement pointed to a significant concession by North Korea which had strenuously objected to annual South Korean-US military drills that would overlap with the February 20-25 reunion for family members separated by the Korean War.
The North had pushed the South to postpone the start of the exercises, but Seoul refused, insisting that the two issues - one humanitarian and one military - could not be linked.
"Agreement was reached after North Korea accepted our position that the family reunion event is important... as the first step to build trust" said South Korea's chief delegate Kim Kyou-Hyun.
The talks on Wednesday and Friday were the highest-level official contact between the two Koreas for seven years, and the fact they ended as they did will be seen as a significant step forward.
As well as ensuring the reunion would take place as planned, the two sides agreed to stop trading verbal insults and to continue their nascent dialogue, AFP reported.
"I wouldn't describe it as a major breakthrough, but it does open the door to possible cooperation and improved relations," said Kim Yong-Hyun, a North Korean expert at Seoul's Dongguk University.
The talks were the first substantive follow-up to statements by the leaders of both countries - South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and the North's Kim Jong-Un - professing a desire for improved inter-Korean ties.