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South: High-level talks between Koreas called off

South: High-level talks between Koreas called off
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Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 6:35am

No reason given, but Yonhap says sides had trouble agreeing who would lead delegations

What were supposed to be the first high-level talks between North Korean and South Korean officials in years will not happen as scheduled Wednesday, South Korea's Unification Ministry announced.

The reason for the move wasn't immediately clear. But South Korea's national news agency, Yonhap, earlier reported that both sides were struggling to agree on who would lead the nations' delegations.

News of the coming talks, which were to focus on reviving joint economic activities, had been viewed as a sign of improvement in the severely strained relations between the two Koreas.

North Korea set off months of tensions with a long-range rocket launch in December, followed by an underground nuclear test in February. The North in April halted activity at the Kaesong Industrial Zone, a shared industrial complex and major symbol of cooperation between the two countries.

But the North then appeared to break the impasse over Kaesong by issuing a proposal Thursday for talks. South Korea reacted quickly and positively to the offer, noting that it had been "continuously" seeking talks on Kaesong since the North shut it down.

The two countries then had lower-level officials meet with each other Sunday to prepare for Wednesday's planned ministerial talks. But, according to Yonhap, the North rejected the South's proposal to have South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae meet with his North Korean counterpart.

The North also, without explanation, said no to the South's proposed list of five negotiators, Yonhap reported.

CNN's Jason Hanna contributed to this report.

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