North and South Korean diplomats are due to hold first high-level talks in the two countries’ current leadership to defuse border tensions and work out humanitarian issues on Friday.
The sides agreed to meet after tensions escalated in August with an exchange of cross-border fire along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Pyongyang declared what it described a “semi-state of war” at the time.
South Korean Deputy Unification Minister Hwang Boo-gi is expected to meet Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea Deputy Executive Secretary Jeon Jeong Soo in the Kaesong border town.
The Sejong Institute private non-profit’s unification expert Cheong Seong-chang told RIA Novosti he expected Friday’s meeting to influence foreign policy both in Seoul and Pyongyang.
“The result of the current negotiations will have a very big impact not only on Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech, but on the North-South relations next year as a whole,” Cheong said.
South and North Korea remain legally at war, as no peace treaty was signed after the Korean War of 1950-1953.