9 Jun 2013

Koreas hold first talks in two years

7:36 pm on 9 June 2013

North and South Korean officials have sat down for their first talks in years, confronting decades of mutual distrust in a search for a positive end to months of soaring military tensions.

The working level discussions, being held in the border truce village of Panmunjom, are intended to pave the way for ministerial level talks in Seoul on Wednesday.

The agenda there will focus on restoring suspended commercial links, including the Kaesong joint industrial complex that the North effectively shut down in April as tensions between the historic rivals peaked.

The talks came about after an unexpected reversal last week from North Korea, which suddenly proposed opening a dialogue.

South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesperson Kim Hyung-Soek told reporters the overall atmosphere was calm and the discussion proceeded with no major debates.

In a further signal of intent, North Korea on Friday restored its official hotline with the South, which it had severed in March.

The two Koreas last held working talks in 2011 and haven't met at ministerial level since 2007.