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Koreas resume peace talks

The meetings in Seoul represent the first high-level talks between the two sides in almost a year
The meetings in Seoul represent the first high-level talks between the two sides in almost a year  


SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- Officials from North and South Korea have begun three days of high-level talks in Seoul aimed at restarting the reconciliation process stalled since last November.

The meetings taking place in the South Korean capital come just over a month after a naval clash between vessels from the two sides that left 17 sailors dead.

Pyongyang last week expressed its regret over the incident.

South Korean officials said they expect the current talks to focus on several projects that have been on the table for some time, including resuming construction of a railway linking North and South, and aiding an ailing tourism project to the northern Kumgang mountains.

Discussions may also raise the possibility of more reunions of families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War.

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No peace treaty has ever been signed between the two sides ending the conflict and as such they remain officially at war.

Holiday reunion

The two Koreas celebrate a Thanksgiving holiday next month, and officials in the South have expressed hope these talks could lead to a reunion in the northern mountains for that holiday.

The South also wants to hold follow-up talks between military officials to discuss ways of preventing further military clashes, although such defense issues may be more difficult to broach.

There had been concern after the June sea battle that North Korea would follow a harder line with the South, but that has not been the case.

The two countries are set to hold a joint soccer match in November, and there are other signs the North is warming to the idea of more talks, such as participating in the 14th Asian Games in September in Pusan, South Korea.

South Korean analysts have said increased talk of possible U.S. plans to attack Iraq -- part of President Bush's so-called "axis of evil" that also included Iran and North Korea -- is one reason the North is more amenable to the idea of cross-border discussions, as a way to show the world it is more engaged in the region.



 
 
 
 







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