South and North Korea Agree to Meet at a Border Village

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SEOUL, South Korea -- South and North Korea will meet Sunday for logistical talks in the border village of Panmunjom to arrange their first cabinet minister-level meeting in six years, a meeting that will take place two days after the two Koreas restored a cross-border hot line.

The developments occurred after North Korea, in a sudden change of heart, proposed on Thursday that the two countries hold their first government-to-government dialogue in years. The surprise overture unleashed a rapid sequence of proposals and counterproposals that raised hopes of a thaw on the Korean Peninsula after months of bellicose language.

Within hours, South Korea accepted the North Korean initiative and proposed to hold a cabinet-level meeting in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Wednesday.

On Friday, the North welcomed the quick response from the South and suggested that the two sides first hold talks on Sunday in the North Korean border town of Kaesong to discuss the proposed meeting. Later Friday, South Korea made a counterproposal that the talks be held not in Kaesong but on the South Korean side of Panmunjom, a village on the inter-Korean border where the truce ending the 1950-53 Korean War was signed.

The counteroffer was delivered to North Korea through a Red Cross hot line, the first restored among several cross-border communications lines North Korea had unilaterally cut off recently in anger over joint South Korean-American military exercises in March.

On Saturday morning, South Korea's Unification Ministry reported that North Korea had agreed to Panmunjom.

In their proposals for talks, both Koreas said they wanted to discuss reopening a shuttered joint industrial complex in Kaesong. The complex, where 123 South Korean factories employed 53,000 North Korean workers, was the last symbol of inter-Korean cooperation until the North suddenly pulled out all its workers a month ago, citing military tensions.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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