SEOUL, The ruling Democratic Party (DP) chief on Thursday met a visiting North Korean official in charge of inter-Korean ties to discuss ways to boost cultural exchanges and cross-border tourism, the party's spokesman said.

DP chairman Lee Hae-chan had dinner with Ri Jong-hyok, vice chairman of the Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee (KAPPC), for two hours and held a closed meeting for 30 minutes in Goyang, north of Seoul.

Ri was leading a five-member North Korean delegation to attend an international forum in Goyang and tour various local facilities, including an industrial complex in Pangyo, south of Seoul.

The two discussed ways to improve inter-Korean ties through cultural exchanges and joint tourism projects, as well as the prospects for a joint industrial complex in Kaesong, DP spokesman Lee Hae-sik said.

"They mostly talked about forestry cooperation, cultural exchange and tourism," he told reporters after attending the dinner. "They also talked about Mount Kumgang and the Kaesong industrial complex and shared the hope that South Koreans could visit Mount Paektu in the future."

In regard to forestry cooperation, Ri expressed hope that tree nurseries could be created to restore destroyed forests in North Korea, the spokesman said.

Ri is known for his long involvement in inter-Korean affairs. The KAPPC is an agency affiliated with the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

His visit followed a meeting with National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang in Geneva on the sidelines of an international conference last month. They discussed ways to hold the first-ever parliamentary meeting between the Koreas.

South Korea earlier proposed holding such a gathering by the end of the year, an offer that the North accepted in principle.

But working-level talks to lay the ground for the gathering have yet to be held as the North wanted to have time to prepare for them.

Source: Yonhap News Agency