North Korea on Friday proposed holding low-level government talks with South Korea this weekend.
Pyongyang, which wants to meet on Sunday in its border city of Kaesong, also said it would re-open a Red Cross communication line with South Korea in their truce village on Friday. During the weeks-long period of animosity marked by a string of North Korean threats of war and South Korean vows of counterstrikes, the North in March shut down the communication line used for exchanging messages on humanitarian issues.
The statement on Friday by the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, which handles relations with Seoul, followed the countries’ agreement a day earlier to hold talks on issues including re-opening a jointly run industrial complex in Kaesong that had been the last symbol of inter-Korean co-operation before it closed this spring.
South Korea had suggested holding high-level ministerial talks in Seoul on Wednesday, but Pyongyang said lower-level talks are needed first because “bilateral relations have been stalemated for years and mistrust has reached the extremity.”
The last government-level contact between the Koreas on their peninsula took place in February 2011 at the truce village of Panmunjom, according to the South’s Unification Ministry, which deals with North Korea issues.
North and South Korea agreed on Thursday to talks not only about Kaesong but about other defunct inter-Korean endeavorus such as cross-border tours and reunions between North Korean and South Korean family members.
The talks would be the first government-level negotiations between the two Koreas since South Korean President Park took office in February with a North Korea policy meant to reach out to Pyongyang to build trust while remaining firm on not tolerating provocations.