Talks Between Legislators Begin on National Unification
PANMUNJOM, Korea (AP) _ For the first time since Korea was divided in 1945, legislators from South and North Korea met Tuesday in this truce village in the buffer zone to discuss national unification.
A five-man delegation from each side attended the talks at the conference room of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, which oversees the armistice that ended the Korean War.
North Korea first proposed in April that a parliamentarians’ meeting be held on July 9 to adopt a declaration of non-aggression.
South Korea said such a meeting should discuss a unified constitution to be adopted in the event of national unification. It said a declaration of non- aggression would be a matter outside the jurisdiction of the parliament.
North Korea expressed dissatisfaction with the South Korean response, but agreed to meet July 23, the date the South Korean government proposed.
Last fall, South and North Korea resumed talks, suspended for several years, on economic and humanitarian matters such as reunions of families separated by the division of the nation.
The increased contacts between the two sides brought a North Korean Red Cross delegation to Seoul last May for the first time in 12 years, and South Korean Red Cross officials are scheduled to visit the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on August 27 for another meeting on separated families.
In addition, the two opposing sides have agreed to exchange civilian visitors and folk art troupes in September for the first time since 1945.
The South Korean delegation was led by Kwon Jung-dal, a ranking member of the ruling Democratic Justice Party and chairman of the assembly’s powerful Home Affairs Committee.
The Seoul group comprised two members each from the government party and the major opposition New Korea Democratic Party, and one representing the minority Korea National Party.
The communist delegation was led by Chon Gum Chol, deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly of the (Communist) Worker’s Party of North Korea.