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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s presumptive No. 2 and other members of Pyongyang’s inner circle met with South Korean officials Saturday in the rivals’ highest level face-to-face talks in five years, a possible indication that both sides are interested in pursuing better ties after months of animosity.
There appeared to be no major breakthrough from the meeting that came as the North’s delegation made a surprise visit to the close of the Asian Games in the South Korean port city of Incheon. But the countries agreed to hold another round of talks between the end of October and the beginning of November, according to a South Korean statement. The specific topics of Saturday’s discussions weren't immediately known.
Still, just the fact that North Koreans at the highest levels visited the South was significant, allowing valuable contact between confidants of North Korea's authoritarian leader and senior South Korean officials after a year that has seen a steady stream of insults between the divided neighbors and an unusual number of North Korean missile and rocket test firings. One analyst called it a “golden opportunity” for South Korean President Park Geun-hye to test North Korea’s willingness to improve shaky ties. The visit comes amid rumors in Seoul about the health of Kim Jong Un, who has made no public appearances since Sept. 3 and skipped a high-profile recent event he usually attends.
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