International

Delegations From Rival Koreas Meet At Panmunjom

South Korea's delegate (left) shakes hands with North Korea's head of working-level delegation Kim Song-Hye as she crosses the military demarcation line for the meeting at border village of Panmunjom. i i

hide captionSouth Korea's delegate (left) shakes hands with North Korea's head of working-level delegation Kim Song-Hye as she crosses the military demarcation line for the meeting at border village of Panmunjom.

Handout/Getty Images
South Korea's delegate (left) shakes hands with North Korea's head of working-level delegation Kim Song-Hye as she crosses the military demarcation line for the meeting at border village of Panmunjom.

South Korea's delegate (left) shakes hands with North Korea's head of working-level delegation Kim Song-Hye as she crosses the military demarcation line for the meeting at border village of Panmunjom.

Handout/Getty Images

For the first time in two years, delegations from North and South Korea sat down for talks aimed at ratcheting down escalating tensions on the peninsula.

The meeting took place at the symbolically significant border village of Panmunjom, where nearly 60 years ago the two sides signed an armistice ending the Korean War.

As NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports, the discussions were focused on procedural issues in advance of a planned ministerial-level meeting, as well as discussions on reviving a joint industrial zone and facilitating reunions of families separated by the Korean War; both of these have been suspended amid growing unease between Seoul and Pyongyang.

A South Korean spokesman told reporters Saturday that the talks had gone smoothly, "without any agreement." South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that the two sides would meet again Wednesday in Seoul.

As the BBC reports:

"Ties between the two Koreas deteriorated earlier this year in the wake of the North's nuclear test on 12 February.

Pyongyang withdrew its workers from the Kaesong joint commercial zone in April, apparently angered by tightened UN sanctions in the wake of the nuclear test and annual South Korea-US military drills.

The zone, seen as a symbol of North-South co-operation, had run successfully just inside North Korea for more than eight years.

Around 53,000 North Korean workers are employed at the Kaesong factory complex by more than 120 South Korean factories.

The zone is a key source of revenue for the North and the biggest contributor to inter-Korean trade."

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