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Koreas Agree Deal to Ease Tensions

Koreas Agree Deal to Ease TensionsKoreas Agree Deal to Ease Tensions

North and South Korea agreed early on Tuesday to end a military standoff that sparked an exchange of artillery fire and had ratcheted up tension on one of the world’s most heavily-fortified borders.

Under an accord reached in the early hours, following more than two days of talks, North Korea expressed regret over the recent wounding of South Korean soldiers in landmine blasts and Seoul agreed to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts, Reuters reported.

North Korea also agreed to end the “semi” state of war it had declared. The two sides will hold follow-up talks to discuss a range of issues on improving ties, the joint statement said.

“It is very meaningful that from this meeting North Korea apologized for the landmine provocation and promised to work to prevent the recurrence of such events and ease tensions,” said Kim Kwan-jin, national security adviser to South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who headed Seoul’s delegation.

Seoul and Pyongyang have remained technically in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean war ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Inter-Korean relations have been all but frozen since the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship, which killed 46 sailors, an incident Seoul blames on the North. Pyongyang denies responsibility.

The rise in tensions began early this month, when the landmine explosions in the DMZ wounded two South Korean soldiers.

Days later, the South began blasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda from loudspeakers along the border, reviving a tactic that both sides had halted in 2004.

The standoff reached a crisis point on Thursday when the North fired four shells into the South, according to Seoul, which responded with a barrage of artillery fire.

Pyongyang then made its ultimatum that Seoul halt the broadcasts by Saturday afternoon or face military action, but on that day the two sides agreed to hold talks between top level aides to the leaders of the two countries.

 

Financialtribune.com