North and South Korean top diplomats meet

It was the first meeting between foreign ministers of North and South Korea since July 2008.

Seoul: The foreign ministers of North and South Korea met briefly on Saturday on the sidelines of a regional security meeting in Indonesia, a day after discussions between nuclear negotiators for the two countries raised hopes of a breakthrough in stalled disarmament talks.

South Korea`s Kim Sung-hwan and the North`s Pak Ui Chun walked together and chatted on Saturday morning on the Indonesian island of Bali, the site of the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting.

It was the first meeting between foreign ministers of the two countries since July 2008 when the same forum was held in Singapore, according to South Korea`s Yonhap News Agency.

The meeting followed one held on Friday between the nuclear negotiators for the two countries. That breakthrough raised hopes that stalled six-nation negotiations on the North`s nuclear programs, last held in December 2008, could possibly restart and that tense relations between the rival nations could ease.

Kim and Pak discussed the talks held by the nuclear negotiators, Yonhap reported, without identifying the source of the information.

A South Korean Foreign Ministry official in Bali could not immediately confirm the contents of the talks or when the last meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries took place.

South Korea`s YTN television showed footage of the two men walking slowly and surrounded by what appeared to be other officials and security staff.

Inter-Korean relations have been fraught since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in February 2008 with a vow to take a tougher approach toward North Korea, a stance Pyongyang has rejected as confrontational and aimed at destabilizing its government.

Tensions spiked after the sinking of a South Korean navy ship in March last year in which 46 South Korean sailors died. Late in 2010, North Korea fired artillery at a South Korean island, killing four people.

Seoul blames Pyongyang for sinking the Navy ship, though the North has strongly denied it.

Bureau Report

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