A high-level North Korean delegation conveyed a message from their leader Kim Jong Il to the South Korean President during a rare meeting on Sunday at the Presidential Blue House.
President Lee Myung-bak and the North Korean officials discussed inter-Korean cooperation during the half hour meeting, Presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said. He said he could not provide details about the contents of Mr. Kim's message.
The Blue House meeting, the latest sign of warming ties between the two Koreas after months of tension, took place just hours before the funeral of Kim Dae-jung, the former South Korean President who met with Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang in 2000 for a historic Korean summit.
The late Kim, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to reach out to the communist North with his ``Sunshine Policy'' of reconciliation, died on Tuesday at the age of 85.
The two Koreas remain in a state of war since their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953, with tanks and troops guarding the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone dividing the two sides.
Kim Dae-jung, who served as President from 1998 to 2003, advocated engaging the isolated, nuclear-armed North, and sought to ease reconciliation by plying the impoverished nation with aid. At their breakthrough 2000 meeting, he and Kim Jong Il agreed on a series of reconciliation projects that saw a flowering of relations between the rivals.
But ties have been tense since President Lee, a conservative, abandoned the Sunshine Policy when he took office in February 2008 and linked aid to North Korea's commitment to nuclear disarmament.
However, there have been signs of an easing of tensions on the Korean peninsula in recent weeks.
At the Blue House meeting, the North Korean delegation explained Kim's thoughts on ``progress on inter-Korean cooperation,'' Mr. Lee's spokesman said.
Mr. Lee, in response, detailed his government's ``consistent and firm'' policy on North Korea, and asked them to convey his comments to Mr. Kim, the spokesman said. The South Korean President also reiterated his push for dialogue, he said.
The spokesman said he could not reveal the contents of the letter because of the sensitivity of the matter.