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North and South Korea to Hold High-Level Meeting on Wednesday: South Korea

North and South Korea to Hold High-Level

Seoul- Senior officials from North and South Korea will hold a rare meeting on Wednesday, the South announced, with discussions likely to focus on reunions of separated families and the South’s annual joint military drills with the United States. The meeting, announced on Tuesday by Kim Eui-do, spokesman for the Unification Ministry, was arranged with unusual speed after the North proposed the talks in a message on Saturday.

It will be the highest level contact since 2007, when the two Koreas, separate since the end of World War Two, held only their second summit meeting. They are also the first such talks since the North shelled a South Korean island in 2010 that sharply raised tensions.

North Korea is likely to restate its demand for the cancellation of the joint drills, as it has done at various venues in the past few weeks, said Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. “They will try to explain the position that family reunions and military activities are not compatible,” Yang said.

The drills, due to start later this month, are a longstanding source of irritation for the North, which denounces them as a rehearsal for a U.S. invasion. The two sides have agreed to hold reunions this month of family members separated since the 1950-53 Korean War at the Mount Kumgang resort, just inside North Korea.

The meetings are seen as a rare confidence building move, but North Korea has threatened to cancel the event, citing a sortie last week by a nuclear-capable U.S. B-52 bomber. President Park Geun-hye’s deputy national security adviser will lead the South’s delegation of defense and security officials at Wednesday’s talks at the Panmunjom “truce village” on the heavily guarded border, ministry spokesman Kim said. (Reuters)

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