2 Koreas agree to hold high-level talks next month to discuss how to improve ties

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SEOUL, South Korea — North and South Korea have agreed to hold high-level talks next month to discuss ways to improve ties, Seoul officials said Friday, a sign that the rivals are following through with promised reconciliation efforts after a military standoff in August.

The two countries threatened war against each other last summer over land mine explosions that maimed two South Korean soldiers. The standoff eased in August when the Koreas met for marathon talks and agreed on a set of tension-reduction efforts that include resuming talks between senior officials.

Working-level officials from the two sides met at a border village on Thursday and agreed to hold high-level talks on Dec. 11 at the Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea, the last remaining major inter-Korean rapprochement project, Seoul's Unification Ministry said in a statement.

Vice-ministerial officials will represent each side to discuss issues regarding improved ties, the statement said.

The Koreas had said in late August that they would hold high-level talks either in Seoul or Pyongyang in the near future.

Last month, the two Koreas held reunions of families separated by war for the first time since February 2014, another sign that they were carrying out on reconciliation efforts stipulated in the August agreements.

There still is animosity between the rivals, which remain divided by the world's most heavily fortified border since the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

About 120 South Korean factories employ more than 53,000 North Koreans at the Kaesong industrial complex, combining South Korean capital and technology with cheap North Korean labor.

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