Korean Legislators Meet for First Time in 40 Years
PANMUNJOM, Korea (AP) _ Legislators from rival South and North Korea met at this truce village today for the first time in the 40 years since their country was partitioned, but disagreed on how to proceed with unification talks.
Five-member delegations from the communist north and pro-Western south met for more than two hours in the demilitarized zone at headquarters of an armistice watchdog group that includes Switzerland, Sweden, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
The two sides agreed to hold another session on Sept. 25 at a site to be picked later through consultations. They also agreed in principle that the plenary meeting be held alternately in the two Korean capitals, Seoul and Pyongyang, and that each side should be represented by about 11 delegates.
They agreed that a direct exclusive telephone line be opened between the two parliaments.
The meeting, first proposed by North Korea last April, was intended to arrange a full-fledged parliamentary conference to discuss national unification.
South Korea’s chief delegate, Kwon Jung-dal, proposed that the conference try to agree on a possible constitution for a unified Korea.
However, the north proposed that a declaration of non-aggression be the main topic. South Korea says such a matter is outside the jurisdiction of Parliament.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency quoted chief North Korean delegate Chon Gum Chol as saying:
″We are not against the discussion of the question of instituting a unified constitution demanded by your side, while discussing the question of publishing a joint declaration of non-aggression which stands out as urgent and pressing at the parliamentary talks.″ The report was monitored in Tokyo.
South and North Korea resumed last fall talks on economic and humanitarian matters that had been suspended for several years.
Their increased contacts resulted in a North Korean Red Cross delegation traveling to Seoul in May for the first time in 12 years. Red Cross officials from the south are scheduled to visit Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, in August to discuss the plight of families separated by the 1945 partition and 1950-53 war.