SEOUL, South Korea (AP)—Taking a big step toward reconciliation, North and South Korea agreed Monday to reopen border liaison offices and reconnect a major rail line across their heavily armed border.
Negotiators from the two sides announced the measures in a six-point joint statement issued at the end of three days of Cabinet-level talks in Seoul. They also agreed to hold regular high-level talks to implement an accord reached at a summit of their leaders in June.
The first step we’ve taken is very good, said chief North
Korean delegate Jon Kum Jin.
We’ve demonstrated that if we
muster our strength and wisdom, we can make a big achievement.
South Korea’s chief negotiator Park Jae-kyu hailed the progress,
saying that his government
will make its utmost efforts to carry
through with the historic agreements.
The communique was announced by Kim Sun-kyu, a spokesman for the South Koreean delegation. The five North Korean delegates later planned to pay a courtesy call on President Kim Dae-jung before leaving Seoul.
The agreements came amid a conciliatory mood fueled by the first-ever summit of leaders of the Koreas in Pyongyang, the North’s capital, on June 13-15.
At their meeting, Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il agreed to put the past behind and work together to bring peace to their divided peninsula, the world’s last Cold War frontier.
They also said they hoped to prepare the way for reunification, a process that could take years or even decades.
To celebrate the historic summit, the Koreas will hold festive unification-related programs for a week around Aug. 15, the date of Korean independence from Japanese colonialism in 1945, the negotiators in Seoul announced.