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Inter-Korean Ministerial Talks End with Joint Statement

The 17th Inter-Korean Ministerial Meeting concluded on Friday in South Korean southern resort island of Jeju after the two sides adopted a nine-point joint statement, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

After prolonged tough negotiations, delegations of South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) finally issued the joint statement, in which they reaffirmed their will to implement an agreement adopted by a multinational negotiations on nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

"We share an understanding that the joint statement from the fourth round of the six-party talks must be implemented at the earliest date possible," said the joint statement.

The countries also "agreed to actively cooperate to bring a peaceful end to the nuclear issue for the security and co-prosperity of the nation," it said.

The two countries also reaffirmed their efforts to reduce tension on the Korean Peninsula, but again failed to set a date for new rounds of meetings between their general-level military officials.

"The two sides agreed to make active and practical efforts to ease military tension and assure peace on the Korean Peninsula," the statement said.

A new round of reunions of separated family members is to be held at the DPRK's mountain resort of Geumgang in March, following the fourth round of reunions via special video linkups in February, according to the statement.

The two sides agreed to hold the 18th round of the meeting in Pyongyang from March 28 to 31 in the next year.

South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young and the DPRK' s Cabinet Councilor Kwon Ho Ung respectively led their teams to the talks.

The meeting, started on Tuesday, was scheduled to end Friday evening.

As an effort to make progress of the talks, the DPRK delegation put off its departure time which was originally scheduled on Friday morning.

The 29-member delegation is to leave for home later Friday on board its own flight.

(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2005)

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