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S. Korea seeks to discuss divided families, easing tensions at inter-Korean talks

All News 09:25 January 08, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will seek to discuss ways to ease military tensions and reunite divided families during this week's high-level talks with North Korea, Seoul's chief delegate said Monday.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon made the remarks one day before South and North Korea will hold their first formal talks in more than two years to discuss the North's potential participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and ways to improve their ties.

"Basically, the two sides will focus on the Olympics. When discussing inter-Korean relations, the government will seek to raise the issue of war-torn families and ways to ease military tensions," Cho told a group of reporters.

This photo, taken Jan. 8, 2018, shows Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon. (Yonhap)

Cho will lead a five-member government delegation to the first inter-Korean dialogue since December 2015. The North's chief negotiator is Ri Son-gwon, the chairman of North Korea's state agency in charge of affairs with the South.

The South's delegation also includes Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung who had various experiences in inter-Korean talks. It marks the first time that the country's top point man on unification and vice minister are included together in a delegation.

"After this week's high-level talks, there will be the need to continue discussions at the working level. That's why the government made the composition of the delegation in such a way," the minister said.

Chang Ung, Pyongyang's sole IOC member, said in a meeting with reporters in an airport in Beijing that his country is "likely to participate" in the Winter Games slated for Feb. 9-25, according to foreign news reports.

"We will listen to what North Korea will say. We will make efforts to enable the North to take part in the games," Cho said.

The government of liberal President Moon Jae-in has expressed hope that the North's participation will ease tensions on the divided peninsula, which have flared up due to North Korea's nuclear and missile provocations.

Moon also hopes that better inter-Korean relations will pave the way for the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue and for broader talks between the United States and the North.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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