South Korea agrees military talks with North Relations betwe

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South Korea agrees military talks with North Relations betwe

Post by samuel »

20 January 2011 Last updated at 12:23 GMT

South Korea agrees military talks with North Relations between North and South Korea

South Korea has agreed to hold high-level military talks with the North, officials say, in a move that could ease tension on the peninsula.

The North's army minister proposed the talks earlier in a telegram to his southern counterpart.

It comes after months of tension over the sinking of a southern warship last March, and the North's shelling of a southern island in November.

On Wednesday, the US and China urged the two sides to reopen talks.

Officials at the South's defence ministry said the North had made its latest offer of talks in a telegram sent to southern Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin, signed by the North's Armed Forces Minister Kim Young-chun.

The North had made several offers of talks earlier this month, but they were all dismissed by Seoul.

The South's Unification Ministry restated on Thursday that the North must "take responsible measures" over the shelling of Yeonpyeong island and the sinking of the Cheonan warship before talks could begin.

But Pyongyang has always denied torpedoing the warship, and says it was provoked into shelling the island.


On Wednesday, China's President Hu Jintao and US President Barack Obama released a joint statement urging Korean dialogue after a meeting in Washington.

"The United States and China emphasised the importance of an improvement in North-South relations, and agreed that sincere and constructive inter-Korean dialogue is an essential step," the two leaders said.

And the North's state-run news agency KCNA called for the US to reopen talks with Pyongyang.

"The US would be well advised to re-examine its hostile policy towards the DPRK [North Korea] and make a U-turn towards dialogue and fence-mending," its report said.

The US is among the countries involved in talks over the North's nuclear programme.

Pyongyang pulled out of the talks in April 2009, shortly before conducting a nuclear test.

Southern defence officials said on Thursday that they would propose to Pyongyang reopening dialogue on denuclearisation.

Relations between the two Koreas plunged to new lows after the South's Cheonan warship was sunk in March, with the loss of 46 lives.

An international report later blamed the North for the sinking - allegations denied by Pyongyang.

On 23 November, the North killed four people when it shelled Yeonpyeong island - its first attack on a civilian area since the 1950-53 war ended.

The South responded with a series of military exercises close to the border.
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