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Koreas to hold talks Friday on excavating ancient palace in N. Korea

All Headlines 15:05 October 25, 2011

SEOUL, Oct. 25 (Yonhap) -- Historians from the two Koreas plan to hold a rare meeting later this week to discuss resuming the long-stalled joint excavation of an ancient royal palace in the North, an official said Tuesday, the latest sign of easing tensions on the divided peninsula.

The two Koreas launched the project to uncover the remains of Manwoldae, the royal palace of the Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392), in the North Korean border town of Kaesong in 2007.

But South Korea halted the excavation last year as part of its sanctions against Pyongyang for the sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on the North.

The North has denied involvement in the sinking that killed 46 sailors and also shelled a South Korean border island last November, killing four more South Koreans.

Inter-Korean ties plunged to their lowest point in decades following the North's two deadly attacks, though South Korea has recently called for flexible policies toward the North to try to improve the strained relations.

A five-member South Korean delegation plans to cross the border into Kaesong on Friday for the working-level meeting, Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung told reporters.

The South Korean experts are expected to propose resuming the excavation early next month since the ground usually freezes in mid-December and it becomes difficult to unearth the remains, according to sources familiar with the issue.

Kaesong served as the capital for most of the Goryeo Kingdom's reign. Now it is home to an industrial complex run by both Koreas.

More than 47,000 North Koreans work for South Korean firms in the Kaesong complex to produce clothes, utensils, watches and other goods. The project serves as a key legitimate cash cow for the impoverished communist country.


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