Seoul and Pyongyang eye new talks


North Korea proposed a time and place for preparatory talks with South Korea, news reports said Friday, in the latest stage of a turbulent year for relations between the two sides.

The North’s committee in charge of relations with South Korea sent a message to its counterpart in Seoul, Pyongyang’s state media reported.

The message proposed “working-level contact for the talks between authorities of the north and the south of Korea at the Thongil House in the north side of (the border village of) Panmunjom on November 26,” the official KCNA news agency said.

“It is a relief that the North has accepted Seoul’s offer for dialogue,” an official at South Korea’s Unification Ministry said, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The proposal for talks comes three months after the two sides – which remain officially at war after the Korean conflict in the 1950s – agreed to reduce tensions.

A landmine explosion that maimed two South Korean soldiers near the border in August took the distrust between the two sides to fresh lows.

Since then, the two sides have organised two sets of reunions of families seperated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The South regards North Korea as a security threat due to its nuclear weapons programme and repeated missile tests; Pyongyang lambasts the South as an ally of its biggest enemy, the United States.