South, North Korea Resume Talks to Stop Standoff

South, North Korea Resume Talks to Stop Standoff
Sun Aug 23, 2015 18:12:52

North and South Korea have held another round of high-level negotiations in a bid to de-escalate the tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea’s presidential office said the talks resumed in the Panmunjom village on the de facto border between the two Koreas on Sunday, adding that the two sides would “continue to narrow down differences.”

Jeung Young-tae, an analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, predicted that “the best outcome of this meeting will be an agreement for another high-level meeting in the future, such as defense ministerial talks.”

The fresh talks came following another negotiating session on Saturday that ended without any final agreement.

In another development on Sunday, the South Korean Defense Ministry accused the North of doubling its artillery units at the border and mobilizing 50 submarines, saying such a move undermines the ongoing talks between the two sides.

“The North is adopting a two-faced stance with the talks going on,” said a ministry official, whose name was not released in reports.

The Saturday talks came just hours prior to the expiration of a deadline set by Pyongyang for Seoul to halt loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts across the border or face military action.

Seoul remained defiant and refused to comply with Pyongyang’s demand for turning off the loudspeakers that have been blasting provocative propaganda messages into North Korea over the past week.

Tension has been running high on the Korean Peninsula since Seoul earlier this month turned back on the loudspeakers after it blamed the North for a mine explosion in August that maimed two of its soldiers. Pyongyang, however, denied any role in the assault.

The two Koreas had reached an agreement in 2004 to dismantle their propaganda loudspeakers at the border.

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