05/16/2005, 00.00
NORTH KOREA – SOUTH KOREA

Seoul and Pyongyang to restart talks

A South Korean delegation arrived this morning in Kaesong, a city in North Korea, for the start of two-day talks. It will discuss restarting the six-nation nuclear talks and humanitarian aid for the North.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – This morning, Seoul and Pyongyang have officially restarted talks in Kaesong, North Korea.

A South Korean delegation led by Deputy Unification Ministry Rhee Bong-jo arrived in the city which is just beyond the Demilitarised Zone for two-day talks.

The agenda of the meeting will include the North's return to the six-nation nuclear talks that it interrupted in June 2004 after the third session—Seoul will offer Pyongyang much needed food aid and fertiliser for its agriculture in return.

Aid shipments were stopped in January 2005 as a result of the worsening nuclear crisis and the lack of talks between the two Koreas. Previously, the South had shipped every year anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 tonnes of fertiliser.

Talks between the two sides had stopped in July 2004 after 460 North Korean refugees were secretly airlifted to the South from Vietnam despite strong opposition from the Communist regime in the North.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill expressed hope the North-South talks in Kaesong would offer an opportunity to tell Pyongyang that it was in its interest to resume the six-nation nuclear talks.

"I'm sure and I'm confident that this is a good move between South and North," Mr Ban said in a press conference.

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