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Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Korean talks lift reconciliation hopes
North Koreas chief negotiator Kim Ryong-song (l) and South Korea's Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyon
The two sides reached a deal after a seven-hour delay
North and South Korea have agreed a series of meetings to bring the two countries closer together, after three days of sometimes troubled talks.

Dates have been set for further discussions on economic and community co-operation and the two sides have said they will also meet to discuss projects involving the military.

But no details have yet been worked out for the military talks on rebuilding a railway through the heavily fortified buffer zone - the key issue believed to have delayed the final session of the first cabinet-level meetings between the two countries for nine months.

Getting together
26-29 August: Economic co-operation talks
4-6 September: Red Cross talks on permanent meeting place for families split since Korean war
10-12 September: Talks on promoting tours to North Korean resort
21 September: Divided families meet in North Korea
29 September - 14 October: North Korea sends athletes to Asian Games in Seoul
19-22 October: Cabinet-level talks in Pyongyang

Progress at the talks in Seoul was being closely monitored in the region for signs that recent North Korean pledges of goodwill were genuine.

Separately, North Korea announced on Wednesday it would hold talks with Japan next week on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations.

A statement issued at the end of the inter-Korean talks said diplomats would use talks on economic issues, starting on 26 August, to also sort out the details of future military discussions.

The two sides said simply that military delegates would meet "as soon as possible".

Reports from Seoul said there had been no agreement reached on the rank of the people to be involved in the discussions about the railway and parallel road through the demilitarized zone - the last Cold War barrier in the world.

Correspondents said there was the impression that the North Koreans had successfully avoided getting pinned down on military details.

The economic talks will also address the building of an industrial base in the North Korean city of Kaesong and anti-flood measures along the Imjin River.

Family reunions

Red Cross officials will meet early next month to arrange reunions between families split since the Korean War 50 years ago.

Selected families will then travel to the North Korean resort of Mount Kumgang to get together around the 21 September Chusok national holiday.

And North Korea says it will send its athletes to compete in the Asian Games in Busan. In the past, it has shunned sporting events held in the South.

A flag is burnt at an anti-North Korean protest
Public discontent at the policy towards the North has been growing
Red Cross officials will also do the groundwork ahead of the meeting between North Korean officials and representatives from Japan on 25 and 26 August, the official Korean Central News Agency said.

"The talks will discuss all the matters relating to establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries and outstanding issues of bilateral concern," it said in a statement.

Japan - which has no diplomatic relations with the North - wants an inquiry into what it says are cases of its citizens being kidnapped.

On Thursday, the two Koreas will celebrate the anniversary of their peninsula's liberation from Japanese occupation in World War II.

North Korea has sent 116 community leaders to join the festivities in Seoul - its largest civic group to visit the South.

But South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who is coming to the end of his five-year term of office, is suffering from pneumonia and will be unable to give his independence day speech.


Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

TALKING POINT
See also:

12 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
09 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
01 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
25 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
29 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
29 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
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