North, South Korea Meet To Discuss Aid

In their first official dialogue in 15 months, officials from the two rival Koreas met Saturday in Beijing to discuss food aid to the impoverished North.

The resumption of talks, reported by Seoul officials, could go a long way toward easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, one of the Cold War’s last outposts. It also was a diplomatic success for Seoul, which has been trying to increase ties with its isolated communist neighbor.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, quoting an unidentified source, reported negotiators were near agreement on providing 150,000 tons of rice for the North, which is said to be suffering acute food shortages.

The rice will be provided free and without a South Korean label, news reports said. The North, which regularly describes the South as full of beggars, will not accept anything publicly billed as South Korean.

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