Koreas express optimism at start of border talks

High-level delegations meet for first dialogue in over two years

Koreas express optimism at start of border talks

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Koreas kicked off formal talks Tuesday for the first time since December 2015, raising hopes the North will take part in next month’s Winter Olympics in the South.

Five-member government delegations from both sides began their meeting as planned at 10 a.m. (0100 GMT). They convened in the inter-Korean border truce village of Panmunjom, where North Korean soldiers were firing at one of their own defecting comrades as recently as November.

“We will make efforts to make the PyeongChang Games and the Paralympics a peace festival and help it serve as the first step toward an improvement in inter-Korean ties,” South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said on live television shortly before the talks began.

He also hinted the Koreas could repeat past marathon meetings, warning they would “not be in a hurry”.

Cho is the South’s chief delegate facing his North Korean counterpart Ri Son-gwon, head of Pyongyang’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country.

Ri opened Tuesday’s dialogue by expressing his hope for a “precious” outcome and a “first new year present,” according to local news agency Yonhap.

“I came here with hopes that the two Koreas hold talks with a sincere and faithful attitude,” Ri said.

Aside from discussing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Day offer to take part in PyeongChang 2018, the parties are also expected to focus on easing tensions that mounted last year amid North Korean nuclear weapons tests and South Korean military maneuvers with the United States.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Ocak 2018, 10:00