PANMUNJOM, Korea -- Declaring they want a new start after more than half a century of animosity, negotiators from South Korea and North Korea sat down Saturday to prepare for the first-ever summit by their leaders.
There were no dramatic strides in the 80-minute talk, the first in an expected series of meetings ahead of the summit, which would be the biggest diplomatic breakthrough in relations between the two Koreas.
Details were not made public. But before the meeting, South Korea's chief negotiator said the two Koreas should prosper through economic cooperation. He also said the summit should give top priority to reuniting family members separated by the division of the peninsula.
It was the first meeting between representatives from the two Koreas since they announced last week plans for a summit in the North's capital, Pyongyang, on June 12-14. South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il will take part.
In a rare scene in Panmunjom, a truce village inside the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two sides, three negotiators from each side sat down at a mahogany table in Peace House, an administrative building in the southern sector.
On the table were Hanmaum, or ''One Mind'' cigarettes, that went on the market earlier this year in one of the growing number of joint business ventures between the two Koreas.
The Koreas were divided at the end of World War II, then went to war five years later. They signed an armistice, rather than a permanent peace treaty, at the end of the Korean War in 1953.
The South, which supports the United States, has since become one of the world's largest economies. The communist North depends on outside aid to feed its hunger-stricken 22 million people.
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