North Korea and South Korea agreed Saturday to hold a second round of high-level talks late October or early November, after a suspension of such interactions for the past seven months. The announcement of more meetings came as North Korea’s Hwang Pyong So, the top political officer in the Korean People’s Army, led some members of Pyongyang’s inner circle to South Korea for the closing ceremony of the Asian Games at Incheon, according to Associated Press.
The visit by North Korean officials was a surprise, as South Korea had been urging the resumption of talks for months now, but Pyongyang had declined, citing Seoul’s military drill with the U.S. The last high-level talks between the two rivals were conducted in February: These led to reunions of some families separated during the Korean War between 1950 and 1953. The countries’ relationship has been strained in recent months because of North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program, military aggression and human-rights abuses.
“The two sides agreed to discuss details for the resumption of the high-level contact,” the South Korean Unification Ministry said in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse. The ministry also said South Korean President Park Geun-Hye had wanted to meet with the North Korean officials, but, due to the suddenness of their visit and her tight schedule, a trip to the presidential Blue House could not be arranged for Saturday.
“The government hopes that the high-level delegation’s attendance at the Asian Games closing ceremony becomes a positive occasion for improved ties between the South and the North,” said Lim Byeong-cheol, a representative of the Unification Ministry, according to Reuters.