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Divided Koreas Resume Ministerial Talks
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A South Korean delegation arrived in Pyongyang Tuesday afternoon to resume the frozen inter-Korean ministerial meetings.

The delegation, led by South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung, was greeted by officials of North Korea at the airport.

The resumed Cabinet-level meetings the highest channel of dialogue between the Koreas are the first concrete sign of eased tensions on the divided peninsula since Pyongyang's February 13 agreement at international arms talks to shut down its main nuclear reactor within 60 days.

The high-level talks were last held in July, when the South refused to continue aid to the North after it test-fired a series of missiles. The countries' relations further soured after the North tested a nuclear weapon in October.

Lee said the South delegation were to have an official dinner with the North's officials before the formal start of talks today.

At this week's talks, the two sides will discuss how to cooperate in implementing the February 13 agreement, Lee added before his departure for the talks that run through Friday.

The February 13 agreement calls for a separate forum on bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula, which has remained technically in a state of war since the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War.

"We will try to restore the framework of South-North dialogue and discuss various issues needed for establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue," Lee said.

This week's talks are also expected to discuss restoring the South's humanitarian aid of rice and fertilizer to the North, and resuming reunions of families split by the border. The reunions have been on hold since aid was suspended last year.

Another key issue in this week's meetings, the 20th such Cabinet-level talks, will be whether the North allows a test run of trains on rebuilt tracks through the heavily armed frontier dividing the peninsula. A planned test run was put off last year because North Korean military said proper security arrangements had not been made.

(China Daily via agencies February 28, 2007)

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