Seoul: South Korea held two rounds of secret talks with North Korea at Pyongyang`s request late last year on joint development of rare earth metals in the North, a Seoul daily reported on Monday.
Korea Resources Corp, a South Korean state-run resources developer, said it held working-level talks with officials of the North`s National Economic Cooperation Federation at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in September and December last year, the Dong-A Ilbo reported.
An unidentified South Korean official who participated in the talks was quoted as saying, "The North strongly proposed that the two Koreas jointly develop coal mines as well as rare earth metals."
No further talks have been held since, however, due to changes in Pyongyang`s political situation following the death of leader Kim Jong Il on Dec 17 last year.
The North`s proposal to hold the meetings was made after the South stopped almost all inter-Korean economic cooperation in May 2010, soon after a South Korean naval vessel was sunk by an alleged North Korean torpedo attack.
Called the "vitamins of high-tech industries," rare earth metals are minerals necessary for making smartphones, notebook computers and hybrid vehicles. (Kyodo)