A motorcade carrying the casket of former president Kim Young-Sam makes its way past Gyeongbokgung palace (top R) and Gwanghwamun square in central Seoul on November 26, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones)
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North and South Korean officials sat down Thursday for rare talks aimed at setting up a sustainable high-level dialogue that has constantly eluded the two rivals.A similar effort back in June 2013 saw both sides agree to hold what would have been the first high-level dialogue for six years -- only for Pyongyang to cancel a day before the scheduled meeting.Thursday's talks come amid diplomatic shifts in the Northeast Asia region that have left North Korea looking more isolated than ever, with Seoul moving closer to Pyongyang's main diplomatic and economic ally China, and improving strained relations with Tokyo.South Korean President Park Geun-Hye recently reiterated her willingness to hold face-to-face talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un -- but only if Pyongyang showed some commitment to abandoning its nuclear weapons program.The United Nations is also understood to be in discussions with North Korea over a visit by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon -- possibly before the end of the year.
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