Report: Koreas hold rare high-level talks

As president of South Korea, Kim Dae-jung helped bridge differences with North Korea.
South Korea’s unification minister met with North Korea’s unity leader Saturday in another sign that icy relations between the two rival nations could be thawing, the South’s state media reported.

The meeting was the first high-level cross border contact in nearly two years, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported. South Korea’s Unification Minister Hyun In Taek held talks with Kim Yang Gon, head of the North’s Workers’ Party unification, the agency reported. “After meeting with several people (in the South), I felt the imperative need for North-South relations to improve,” Kim told the Seoul minister during a photo session with him and his staff, Yonhap reported. Kim is part of a six-member North Korean delegation in Seoul to mourn the death of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. The North delegation also asked for a meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Yonhap reported. These meetings between the two Koreas come in stark contrast to the tense public statements about each other earlier this year.

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Tensions between the two were heightened in July when North Korea launched seven short-range missiles toward the Sea of Japan. The launches came after North Korea conducted a nuclear test on May 25 and threatened the United States and South Korean ships near its territorial waters. South Korea condemned the action, calling the launches “provocative” and “unwise.”