Two Koreas to hold talks

North and South Korea on agreed to hold working-level talks on Sunday in the border truce village of Panmunjom, following months of soaring tension.

The two Koreas agreed to send three delegates each to Panmunjom, a traditional point of contact on their border, for talks aimed at paving the way for higher-level negotiations, Seoul's Unification Ministry said.

The two nations unexpectedly reached a snap agreement Thursday on opening a dialogue, with South Korea responding to a North initiative by offering a ministerial-level meeting in Seoul on June 12.

A spokesman for Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea then suggested initial lower-level talks Sunday in the Kaesong joint industrial zone.

The South's Unification Ministry - using the newly reopened hotline - agreed but said Panmunjom would be a more appropriate venue.

The proposed agenda for the North-South talks involves the re-opening of Kaesong, the resumption of tours to the North's Mount Kumgang resort and renewed cross-border family reunions.

The Kaesong complex, established in 2004 as a symbol of inter-Korean cooperation, was the most high-profile casualty of the recent tensions.

Operations ground to a halt after the North pulled all its 53,000 workers out in early April. The South withdrew its managers and officials soon afterwards.

As the two Koreas gingerly groped ways for resuming dialogue, both sides stopped short of mentioning the thorniest issue of the North's nuclear programmes as one of the ministerial talks' possible agenda.

But the South is widely expected to touch on the issue when the ministerial talks occur.


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