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(LEAD) Koreas hold talks on forestry cooperation

All Headlines 11:17 October 22, 2018

(ATTN: RECASTS dateline, headline and throughout with updated info; ADDS photo)

SEOUL/KAESONG, Oct. 22 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- The two Koreas held talks Monday to discuss fighting tree disease as part of efforts to step up their forestry cooperation.

The talks began at around 10 a.m. at their joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong. It was the first meeting to discuss cooperation after the two Koreas' high-level talks last week.

South Korea's delegation is led by Park Chong-ho, deputy minister of the Korea Forest Service. His North Korean counterpart is Kim Song-jun, a senior official of the North's ministry of environmental protection.

"(I) hope that this meeting will bear fruit by approaching this with a cooperative stance on discussing the agenda determined by the Pyongyang summit and high-level talks," Park said at the start of the meeting.

This photo provided by the joint press corps shows Park Chong-ho, who leads South Korea's delegation to talks with North Korea on forestry cooperation, answering questions from reporters in Seoul before leaving for the meeting on Oct. 22, 2018. (Yonhap)

Kim, North Korea's top delegate, urged both sides to work hard to faithfully implement summit agreements between the two Koreas without being swayed by outside influence or pressure.

"Since the September summit, this is the first subsequent meeting ... the first meeting in economic cooperation," he said. "I have high expectation that we will be able to play the role of pioneers."

The two are expected to discuss how to cooperate on controlling tree disease, including pine tree pests, and modernizing tree nurseries.

In a briefing after the high-level talks, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon called the pine tree pest issue the most urgent matter for North Korea.

In August, the two Koreas conducted a joint field survey of the region near Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast to examine the damage caused by diseases in trees, a follow-up step to their first meeting on forestry cooperation in July.

During their third summit in Pyongyang last month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to actively promote environmental collaboration and achieve substantial results in their ongoing forestry cooperation.


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