MOSCOW, June 8 (RIA Novosti) - North and South Korea have agreed that talks slated for Sunday should be held in the demilitarized zone between the two countries, South Korean Yonhap news agency reported on Saturday, citing South Korean officials.
The talks are to be held in Panmunjom, an abandoned village in the demilitarized zone, where the armistice or cease-fire was signed in 1953 ending the Korean War, Yonhap reported.
On Thursday the two countries agreed to talks “in principle” about joint projects, and the following day announced their firm commitment to meeting on Sunday: only the location remained to be decided.
One of the key issues to be discussed is re-starting operations in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which is home to 123 South Korean factories employing about 53,000 workers.
Work stopped there in April when North Korea withdrew all its workers as tension in the region escalated sharply, following additional UN sanctions imposed after North Korea carried out its third nuclear test in seven years in February.
Sunday's talks are set to begin at 10 am local time at Freedom House in Panmunjom, Yonhap reported.
The initiative is timed to mark “the anniversary of the June 15 joint declaration,” North Korean state news agency KCNA cited the country’s reunification committee, responsible for relations with South Korea, as saying in a statement.
The joint declaration referred to was signed in 2000 following a bilateral summit, and ushered in a period of improved relations between the two states which technically remain "at war" as only an armistice, not a formal peace treaty, was signed at the end of the Korean War in 1953.
“It is our view that working contact between the authorities of the north and the south is necessary prior to ministerial-level talks proposed by the south side,” a spokesman for the North Korean agency responsible for relations with the south said in a statement posted on KCNA on Friday.
News of the talks drew a cautious welcome from the international community.
“We view this as a positive indication, particularly against the backdrop of recent tensions on the Korean peninsula” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s ambassador-at-large Grigory Logvinov said on Friday.
“We hope this positive movement will become a sustained trend and lead to the renewal of the six-party talks,’ Logvinov added.