South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung, center, and his North Korean counterpart Kwon Ho Ung, second from left, arrive to hold their high-level meeting today in Pyongyang, Nor
South Korea pressed North Korea today to follow through on its pledge to start dismantling its atomic weapons program in the first high-level talks between the two Koreas since the communist regime’s October nuclear test.
North Korea did not give a direct response to the appeal, but proposed a full resumption of humanitarian projects, apparently referring to aid shipments the South has regularly given the impoverished nation as well as reunions of families separated since the 1950-53 Korean War.
The Cabinet-level meetings, the highest regular dialogue channel between the two sides, got under way in Pyongyang, North Korea, for the first time in seven months Tuesday against the backdrop of a landmark international nuclear agreement. That deal calls for the North to shutter its main nuclear reactor within 60 days in exchange for aid.
In today’s meeting — the first formal negotiating session in the talks that run through Friday — the South’s chief delegate, Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung, urged North Korea to "quickly implement the Feb. 13 agreement," said delegation spokesman Lee Kwan-se. The minister also expressed regret over the North’s missile and nuclear tests, blaming them for the seven-month freeze in the inter-Korean reconciliation process, the spokesman said, according to pool reports.