The two Koreas on Friday agreed to hold the meeting for the reunion of separated families and the general-level military talks in June, a joint statement provided by the Ministry of Unification (MOU) announced.
The press statement follows a day of high-level inter-Korean meetings at the Peace House on the southern part of Panmunjom.
“The South and the North agreed to hold talks in each field immediately to implement the agreements made at the Panmunjom summit,” it reads.
Friday saw the two Koreas agree to hold general-level military talks on June 14 at Tongilgak on the northern side of Panmunjom.
The purpose of the talks, the statement continued, would be to discuss alleviation of military tensions and a potential meeting between the two Koreas’ defense ministers.
April’s Panmunjom Declaration saw the two Koreas agree to “first convene military talks at the rank of general in May.”
Should general-level military talks take place, they will be the first of their kind since December 2007.
Defense ministry spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo on Tuesday said Seoul is “fully prepared” for military talks between general-level officials.
During Friday’s meeting, Seoul and Pyongyang also agreed to hold Red Cross talks on June 22 on Mount Kumgang to discuss humanitarian issues, including the reunion of separated families.
April’s Panmunjom Declaration saw Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to go ahead with a reunion event on August 15 – Korea’s National Liberation Day.
Should it goes ahead, the August 15 meeting will be the first of its kind since October 2015.
The two Koreas have also agreed to hold talks on sports-related issues on June 18 at the Peace House on the southern side of Panmunjom.
The joint press statement said the meeting would begin planning for inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation in sports, including a joint basketball game and co-participation in the 2018 Asian Games.
Friday saw the North propose holding a joint event on June 15 in South Korea to celebrate the anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit.
The two Koreas will continue planning the event by exchanging documents, according to the statement.
Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon, however, later said the two Koreas have “agreed not to hold a joint event” on June 15, while adding that this decision is not final.
Speaking at a news conference following the high-level meeting, Cho told pool reporters that the two Koreas are scheduled to hold a variety of events before and after June 15, making it difficult to set the date and venue for the inter-Korean ceremony.
The unification minister also said the two Koreas had discussed the issue of the several South Korean citizens currently detained in the North.
“The North Korean side explained us that the relevant agency has been reviewing the issue related to the detainees,” Cho told pool reporters, declining to provide further details.
The minister also reiterated Blue House statements that the issue had been under discussion since South Korean President Moon Jae-in requested DPRK leader Kim Jong Un return six South Korean detainees at their first summit in April.
Cho added the topic was “totally separate” from the issue of the 12 North Korean restaurant workers, adding the DPRK delegation had not made any mention of the women at today’s meeting.
Friday saw Seoul propose the two Koreas work together to promote forest cooperation and conduct joint research on the connection of railways and roads between Seoul and Sinuiju and a “new economic map” for the Korean peninsula.
But the two Koreas appear to have not come to an agreement on related meetings, with the statement saying precise dates for working-level talks will be decided at a later date.
A date for working-level talks on a planned autumn performance by a North Korean art troupe in the South will also be announced later, it said.
The two Koreas also agreed that they would aim to hold regular high-level meetings, but the statement said the date for the next would be decided by the progress made in the upcoming work-level talks.
“The South and the North agreed to comprehensively review the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration by holding high-level talks regularly,” it read.
Seoul dispatched a six-member delegation led by unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon to Friday’s talks, with chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) Ri Son Gwon serving as the chief delegate for the DPRK five-member delegation.
There were also hints at some disagreements between the two Koreas, however.
The two Koreas earlier in the day agreed to “immediately” set up a joint liaison office in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) as the first step towards full implementation of April’s Panmunjom Declaration.
The joint statement later clarified that the two Koreas will come up with “practical measures” to establish the liaison office with representative residents “at an early date.”
A South Korean government official earlier in the day said the North Korean side had raised the necessity of repair work at the KIC as the facilities “haven’t been used for a long time.”
Ri Son Gwon, however, dismissed the claim at a news conference following the final meeting.
“We didn’t make any mention that the Kaesong Industrial Park needs to be repaired,” Ri told South Korean pool reporters.
Ri also said there had been “common ground and differences” between the North and South Korean authorities in the process of adopting the joint press statement.
But the DPRK chief delegate said the two Koreas both recognized the importance of the two meetings between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in April and May.
Despite not specifying the precise areas of disagreement between the two sides, Ri said it had taken “some time” to coordinate the joint press statement.
Friday also saw Ri call for “renewing the culture of inter-Korean talks.”
Both sides, he said, should establish a foundation to achieve good results by “avoiding obsolete, tedious and sturdy ideas and innovatively exploring things that the North and South Korean authorities can do.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Rodong Sinmun
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