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Birdflu talks first inter-Korea contact in 9 months

by 5m Editor
22 April 2005, at 12:00am

KOREA - South Korean officials travelled to the North Korean city of Kaesong on Friday for talks on helping the reclusive state combat a bird flu outbreak, Unification Ministry officials said.

Birdflu talks first inter-Korea contact in 9 months - KOREA - South Korean officials travelled to the North Korean city of Kaesong on Friday for talks on helping the reclusive state combat a bird flu outbreak, Unification Ministry officials said.

The talks are the first contact between the authorities of the South and North since July last year, an official told Reuters.

North Korea accepted the South's offer for help in fighting the outbreak, which has led Pyongyang to cull more than 210,000 chickens. North Korea confirmed the outbreak last month but has not said whether there were any human infections.

A U.N. expert who visited Pyongyang has said the outbreak was caused by the H7 strain, which has yet to be seen in Asia but can cause illness in humans.

South Korea was also sending the first shipment of medications and equipment on Saturday to be used in combating the outbreak, another official said.

The talks in Kaesong were being attended by a team of agricultural, unification and veterinary officials and were scheduled to end later on Friday.

Bilateral dialogue had been stalled since July last year when Pyongyang broke off all talks with Seoul, angered by an airlift of more than 460 North Korean refugees from Vietnam.

The South has put off decision on the North's request for 500,000 tonnes of fertiliser, saying it wants to first hold talks to discuss details. It was not clear whether Seoul would consider Friday's bird flu talks as a venue to discuss those aid details.

North Korea has also snubbed multinational talks on ending its nuclear programmes since the last round held in June.

Source: Reuters - 22nd April 2005

5m Editor