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Korean talks hailed by both North and South.

Taking a big step toward reconciliation, North and South Korea agreed yesterday to reopen border liaison offices and reconnect a major rail line across their heavily armed border.

Negotiators from the two sides announced the measures in a six-point joint statement issued at the end of three days of Cabinet-level talks in Seoul.

They also agreed to hold regular high-level talks to implement an accord reached at a summit of their leaders in June.

"The first step we've taken is very good," said chief North Korean delegate Mr Jon Kum Jin. "We've demonstrated that if we muster our strength and wisdom, we can make a big achievement."

South Korea's chief negotiator, Mr Park Jae-kyu, hailed the progress, saying that his government "will make its utmost efforts to carry through with the historic agreements".

The five North Korean delegates later planned to pay a courtesy call on president Kim Dae-jung before leaving Seoul.

The agreements came amid a conciliatory mood fuelled by the first-ever summit of leaders of the Koreas in Pyongyang, the North's capital.

It was the most significant step towards peace in a half-century of hostility.

The Koreas were divided into the communist North and the pro-western South in 1945. Their three-year war in the early 1950s ended without a peace treaty.
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Title Annotation:Foreign News
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 1, 2000
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