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ROK, DPRK Agree to Enhance Bilateral Ties

The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) yesterday agreed a 12-point joint statement to enhance bilateral exchanges at the end of the 15th Inter-Korean Ministerial Meeting, the chiefs of the two delegations told a press conference.

ROK Unification Minister Chung Dong-young and Kwon Ho-ung, a senior cabinet councilor of the DPRK, led their delegations to the inter-Korean meeting which concluded its two-day official session on yesterday evening.

"South Korea (the ROK) and the DPRK agreed to take substantial steps to peacefully resolve the nuclear issue through means of dialogue," said the statement.

China, the DPRK, the United States, Russia, the ROK and Japan have held three rounds of Six-Party Talks in Beijing on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

But the talks have been suspended since last September when the scheduled fourth round of the talks failed to be convened.

The DPRK agreed to send a government delegation to the event to be held in the ROK in mid-August to celebrate the 60th anniversary of liberation of the Korean Peninsula from Japanese colonial rule. The two sides will hold working-level meeting to discuss details in July in the DPRK border city of Kaesong, said the statement.

The two sides also agreed to hold a new round of reunions of separated family members at the DPRK's Mount Geumgang resort on August 25.

Also on the same day, a ceremony will be held at Mount Geumgang to mark the start of construction of a permanent venue for the separated family members' reunions.

Until now, reunions of separated family members have been held in a hotel at the mountain.
The two countries also agreed in principle to resume the inter-Korean general-level military talks at the DPRK's Mount Paekdu, but the statement added that the exact date of the talks would be decided later after discussions between military authorities of the two sides.

The ROK and the DPRK held first and second general-level military talks in June 2004. But the talks have been suspended ever since.

The two sides also agreed to hold Red Cross talks in August to discuss measures to locate South Korean who disappeared during the Korean War (1950-53) and are still believed to be in the DPRK.

"South Korea (the ROK) and the DPRK are to hold the 10th Inter-Korean Economic Co-operation Promotion Committee Meeting on July 9-12 in Seoul," said the statement.

Moreover, the two sides agreed to hold the 16th Inter-Korean Ministerial Meeting at DPRK's Mount Paekdu on September 13-16. The 17th round of the meeting will then take place this December in South Korea, said the statement.

In another development, the DPRK's Rodong Sinmun newspaper in a commentary rejected the persistent US demands for Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear programme first. It stressed that the prerequisite to denuclearization is for the United States to discard its nuclear threat posed to the DPRK.

(China Daily June 24, 2005)


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