South Korean officials are hosting their North Korean counterparts in the first high-level talks between the two countries for nearly two years.
The North Korean delegation says it wants to improve diplomatic relations that have recently deteriorated. And the South’s Unification Minister said before the talks that the mere fact that the meeting was going ahead at all was “probably a message in itself.” The North Korean officials had originally intended to leave Seoul on Saturday but it has been reported that they will now stay until Sunday in order to attend the funeral of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who died on Tuesday. Kim pursued a policy of engagement with the North which included unconditional aid to its neighbour. But the relationship has soured since the arrival of his successor Lee Myung-bak two years ago. Since then the aid has been frozen amid several nuclear missile tests carried out by the North.