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(2nd LD) Koreas to exchange info on contagious diseases in pilot program

All Headlines 18:03 November 07, 2018

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS more info in paras 2-5)

SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea agreed on Wednesday to launch a pilot program within this year to exchange information on contagious diseases as they move to expand cooperation in the health sector.

The agreement was made during a meeting between South Korea's Vice Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol and his North Korean counterpart, Pak Myong-su, and other ranking officials at the joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong. The meeting started at around 10 a.m., the government said.

They were the first inter-Korean talks related to health issues in 11 years. The two Koreas previously held similar talks in December 2007.

The two sides also agreed to push forward various projects for the diagnosis and prevention of potentially fatal diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria.

The two Koreas will actively seek other comprehensive projects in the health sector and will routinely cooperate through the liaison office, officials here said.

"The two Koreas should work together as they are located next to each other, making it possible for contagious diseases to spread via mosquitoes and other bugs that cannot be easily controlled by humans," Kwon was quoted by Seoul's health ministry as saying. "I believe this meeting is an opportunity to touch on various challenges."

In response, Pak expressed hope that the meeting will lead to people from the Koreas enjoying more healthy lives.

In recent months, Seoul and Pyongyang have been holding a series of meetings on various cooperative projects on railway connections, forestry and in other areas, all of which they believe will help ease tensions and build mutual trust.

South Korea's Vice Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol (L) shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart, Pak Myong-su, on Nov. 7, 2018 (Pool photo) (Yonhap)


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