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Korean PM meets with top N. Korean officials

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won voiced hope Saturday for improved inter-Korean ties during a meeting with a high-profile North Korean delegation on a surprise visit to the South.

Chung met with the North's officials at the Incheon Asian Games main stadium where the closing ceremony for the games took place.

The Northern ficials included Hwang Pyong-so, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission; Choe Ryong-hae, secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea; and Kim Yang-go, head of the United Front Department.

It marked the first time that a sitting South Korean prime minister has met with high-ranking North Korean officials since their prime ministerial talks in 2007 to discuss follow-up measures to the summit between then President Roh Moo-hyun and late leader Kim Jong-il.

The two sides largely exchanged friendly remarks in the 14-minute meeting without going into sensitive political topics, Chung's office said in a news release.

Chung noted good performances by both South and North Korean athletes in the Asian Games, it said.

"I hope that it will lead to South-North cooperation and exchanges," he told the North Koreans, according to his office.

Chung especially expressed hope for more exchanges in football, as the South won the men's football gold medal and the North won the women's one.

In response, Hwang said Korea dominated Asia in football, and it is expected to take the top of the world.

The North's delegation also had a separate meeting at the stadium with top South Korean political leaders, including Kim Moo-sung, head of the ruling Saenuri Party and  Moon Hee-sang, interim chief of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy. (Yonhap)