North, South Korea begin first military talks in two years


Seoul : North and South Korea began their first working-level military discussions for almost two years Thursday, a news report said.

Support TwoCircles

Officers from each side met at Panmunjom on the border between the countries at around 10 a.m. (0100 GMT), the Yonhap news agency reported quoting an unnamed defence ministry official.

The talks came amid increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula since the disputed sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

“At the working-level talks, the sides will discuss overall issues raised by the South and the North,” the ministry official said.

The head of the North Korean delegation, Colonel Ri Shin Kwon, said: “All issues should be resolved from the point of a humanitarian view at today’s talks.”

The talks are the first set of direct military discussions since the torpedoing of a South Korean corvette with the loss of 46 lives. Seoul blamed the sinking on Pyongyang, which it denied.

Thursday’s talks were taking place at the same time as five days of joint naval exercises between the US and South Korea in the Yellow Sea. They began Monday and were focusing on anti-submarine drills.

There have been some signs recently of improving relations with the release of a South Korean fishing boat and the North’s proposal of fresh reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War and division of the Korean Peninsula.

Yonhap said that the South Korean military was wary of the provocative actions by the North, followed by talks aimed at winning concessions.