Flood talks between Koreas end without agreement

SEOUL, South Korea, AP

North and South Korea made progress but reached no agreement in talks on building a dam to control flooding across their heavily armed border, officials said Saturday.

They were speaking after the end of four days of meetings in Pyongyang, the North’s capital, during which the two sides discussed ways of preventing chronic monsoon floods along their border.

South Korean delegates proposed that both nations conduct field surveys of the area around the Imjin River, which flows across the western sector of the border, as a preliminary step to building a dam.

“The North didn’t have enough time to study all the details of our proposal,” pool reports quoted chief South Korean delegate Choi Young-chul as saying at the end of the talks.

Both sides agreed to continue consultations by exchanging documents.

“Both sides shared the view that the issue of preventing flood damage in the area along the river is of weighty importance in achieving the balanced development of the national economy,” said KCNA, the North’s official foreign news outlet.

The western border region has been plagued by recurrent floods during the summer monsoon season. Property damage in South Korea totaled US$1.3 billion during 1996-1999.

North Korea also reported heavy annual flood damage in the area but gave no estimates of losses.

The flood talks are among several channels opened between the former Cold War adversaries since their leaders held a historic summit in June and pledged to pursue economic cooperation and political reconciliation.

The Korean Peninsula was partitioned into the communist North and pro-Western South in 1945 at the end of World War II. The 1950-53 Korean War ended without a peace treaty and the border remains sealed.