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SOUTH AND NORTH KOREA TO HOLD HIGH-LEVEL TALKS

SEOUL, South Korea - South and North Korea agreed Saturday to resume high-level talks this year, raising hopes for a thaw in the long-tense relations on the divided Korean peninsula.

A statement from South Korea did not specify what would be discussed. But South Korea had proposed in August that senior officials meet to discuss a new round of reunions of family members separated by the Korean War six decades ago, a program that has proceeded in fits and starts for years.

The North had rejected the August overture, insisting that Seoul first stop activists in the South from sending balloons into North Korea bearing antigovernment propaganda.

But a breakthrough appeared to come Saturday, when top South Korean policymakers met with a North Korean delegation visiting Incheon for the closing ceremony of the Asian Games, a surprise visit that South Korea announced just an hour before the officials' arrival. The delegation included three of the most trusted aides of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.

During the meeting Saturday, the two sides agreed to resume a formal dialogue this month or in early November, the South's Ministry of Unification said in a statement. "While calling the upcoming talks a second round of dialogue, the North explained that it intended to hold more rounds of South-North talks in the future," the statement said.

The mention of a "second round" appeared to refer to the last time officials met to discuss the family reunions, in February. After that meeting, hundreds of Koreans from both sides held emotional family reunions at a North Korean resort.

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