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(LEAD) South, North Korea hold rare high-level talks

All Headlines 20:28 August 22, 2009

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, UPDATES with dinner meeting)
By Kim Hyun and Tony Chang

SEOUL, Aug. 22 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea had their first high-level talks in nearly two years on Saturday, as North Korea's visiting delegation extended its stay in Seoul after paying tribute to the country's late former president.

A day earlier, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il sent the six-member team to pay respects to late former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. The officials, initially scheduled to return home Saturday afternoon, were staying for another day, reportedly seeking a meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

"The North Korean condolence delegation has informed our side that they will extend their stay by one day into Sunday," Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said.

A North Korean Air Koryo plane, which was supposed to take the delegation back home, flew back Saturday evening without the officials.

South Korea's unification minister, Hyun In-taek, met with his counterpart in the North Korean delegation, Kim Yang-gon, in the first ministerial-level dialogue since defense ministers' talks held in Pyongyang in November 2007.


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