Seoul: North and South Korea began talks
Tuesday about a potential volcanic threat from the peninsula`s highest mountain, in a rare moment of cooperation after months of confrontation.
The meeting at the South Korean border town of Munsan
came amid heightened concern over natural disasters after a
killer earthquake and ensuing tsunami devastated northeastern
A 13-member North Korean team including three experts
crossed the border early Tuesday and exchanged greetings with
four South Korean delegates waiting at the immigration office
in Musan, witnesses said.
"Nice to see you," they told their South Korean
counterparts, shaking hands with them. The North Koreans waved
away questions from journalists before going upstairs for the
closed-door talks, witnesses said.
Following the Japanese disaster, Pyongyang`s
earthquake bureau had proposed joint research into possible activity at Mount Paekdu on the border between North Korea and China -- a peak considered sacred by both sides.
North Korea says its current leader Kim Jong-II was born there and its schoolchildren are required to visit the
peak to pay respects to the ruling Kim dynasty.
Since its last eruption in 1903, the 2,740-metre
(9,042-foot) mountain has been inactive. But experts say it
may have an active core, citing topographical signs and
In the event of an eruption, a huge lake could overflow and deluge surrounding areas.
Relations have been icy since the South accused the North of torpedoing a warship in March 2010 with the loss of
46 lives. Pyongyang denies the charge, but went on to shell a
South Korean island last November, killing four people.
Unification Minister Hyun In-Taek said last week that
the joint research, if well coordinated by both sides, could
develop into "a whole new level" of cross-border projects.