The 21st inter-Korean ministerial meeting opened on Wednesday in the South Korean capital city of Seoul, focusing on bilateral relations, North Korean official news agency KCNA reported.
Kwon Ho Ung, North Korean Chief Councilor of Cabinet, said they must abide by the principle that the nation was important and place this above anything else while settling the issues related to inter-Korean relations, the KCNA said.
He also called for actions on inter-Korean relations to reflect the nation's interests and wishes.
Kwon said North and South Koreas have reached agreements on many crucial issues, including to recognize and respect each other's ideology and system. But those agreements have not come into effect.
Kwon stressed that the current talks should focus on settling the fundamental points already agreed rather than working to make new agreements, calling for decisive measures against anything that provokes either side and endangers inter-Korean relations.
Kwon also criticized North Korea-targeted joint military exercises launched by South Korea and outside forces after the 20th inter-Korean ministerial meeting, according to the KCNA.
Lee Jae-joung, South Korean Unification Minister and head of its delegation, said the two sides should maintain peace at a higher level by establishing military confidence and the realizing the Korean peninsula's denuclearization.
He added that the two side should develop and expand their cooperation in the economic field, the South Korean media reported.
The inter-Korean ministerial meeting was agreed upon at the previous meeting in February, when the two sides agreed to make efforts to expand inter-Korean ties in accordance with the North-South Joint Declaration signed in June 2000, and take substantial measures to promote the North-South reconciliation and unity.
The inter-Korean ministerial meeting, the highest level of regular dialogue between NOrth and South Korea, shows that bilateral ties are moving forward along the normal path.
The 21st ministerial meeting will conclude on June 1.
In another development, both sides will hold a new round of working-level military talks next Friday, said South Korean Defense Ministry today.
The North side had proposed to hold a round of working-level military on either side of the truce village of Panmunjom on May 28 but the South counter-offered a meeting on June 8 at the House of Freedom on the South side of Panmunjom in consideration of a schedule for the Inter-Korean Ministerial-level talks, the ministry said in a news release.
The two sides are expected to discuss follow-up measures upon agreement reached at the inter-Korean general-level talks earlier this month, the ministry said.
South Korean Army Col. Moon Sung-mook and his North Korean counterpart Col. Pak Rim-su, both served as deputy chief of their country's delegation to the general-level talks that were held for four days from May 8, will be representatives for the talks, the ministry said.
(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2007)