North and South Korea seek better ties at rare high-level talks
SEOUL (REUTERS) - North and South Korea held their first high-level talks in seven years on their armed border on Wednesday, exploring ways to improve ties while the South and the United States geared up for large-scale military drills that have angered Pyongyang.
The meeting was set up with unusual speed and great secrecy at the North's suggestion last week, the latest example of conflicting signals coming from Pyongyang that included an abrupt cancellation of an invitation for a US envoy to visit.
The North is likely to repeat its demand for the South and the United States to scrap the military drills, due to start later this month, but both sides have plenty of incentives to seek a deal that could break their long stalemate.
"For the North, if it comes back with an accomplishment in terms of improved South-North ties, it will mean a better atmosphere for Kim Jong Un to visit China and a justification to pursue high-level talks with the United States," said Cheong Seong Chang, an expert at the Sejong Institute outside Seoul.