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(2nd LD) Koreas holding working-level talks on forestry cooperation

All News 14:42 July 04, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS comments in paras 4-6; REPLACES photo)

SEOUL, July 4 (Yonhap) -- The two Koreas are holding working-level talks Wednesday to discuss cooperation in the forestry sector expected to focus on addressing deforestation-related problems in the North.

The meeting began at around 10 a.m. on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom, according to the unification ministry that handles inter-Korean affairs.

South Korea sent a three-member delegation led by Ryu Kwang-soo, vice minister of the Korea Forest Service. His North Korean counterpart is Kim Song-jun, a senior official at the ministry of environmental protection.

"We were concerned as a typhoon was approaching but fortunately, there was less-than-expected damage as it changed course," Ryu said at the start of the meeting, according to a video clip provided by the ministry.

"Water and forestry are inseparable issues. ... I think cooperation in the forestry sector could play an important role in that context," he added.

Kim, the North's top delegate, shared the view, saying, "Let's enter these talks thinking that we are pushing to grow green forests of peace and prosperity on our land."

The two are expected to discuss ways, in particular, to help the North deal with deforestation problems caused by excessive logging and explore cooperation in other relevant areas, such as a technology transfer.

Observers said that a joint study could also be proposed during the talks aimed at figuring out the exact condition of the North's forestry.

No data related to the current condition of the North's forestry are available.

According to the unification ministry here, about a third of the North's forest remains destroyed as of 2008, increasing the potential risks of floods and landslides.

The meeting is the latest in a flurry of contacts between the two Koreas amid a thaw in the wake of their leaders' historic April summit that committed to expanding cross-border exchanges and contacts in diverse areas.

They recently held talks to discuss cooperation in connecting railways and roads over their borders and agreed to hold reunions of families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War in August. A friendly inter-Korean basketball event, the first of its kind in 15 years, is also under way in Pyongyang.

South and North Korean forestry officials meet at the truce village of Panmunjom on July 4, 2018, in this photo from South Korea's unification ministry. Forestry is one of the cooperation areas the two sides agreed on following the inter-Korean summit in April. The North is said to suffer from severe deforestation, which increases the chances of floods and landslides. (Yonhap)


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