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(LEAD) Koreas hold high-level military talks at truce village

2014/10/15 11:01

SEOUL, Oct. 15 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea held their first high-level military talks in seven years on Wednesday, sources said, amid heightened tensions following a series of shootouts along the inter-Korean land and sea borders.

"The inter-Korean general-level military talks got underway from 10 a.m. at the truce village of Panmunjom," said a parliamentary source, asking not to be identified.

"The North does not want to make it public," he said of the Seoul government's refusal to officially confirm the meeting, while refusing to elaborate further.

It is not known who attended the meeting and what issues were on the table, with the Neither the defense ministry nor the unification ministry having made any official comment on the talks.

Earlier in the day, Rep. Park Ji-won of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy said the two Koreas were to meet "to discuss such issues as the Northern Limit Line (NLL) and South Korean civic groups' anti-Pyongyang campaign of propaganda balloons."

   Last week, South and North Korean patrol boats briefly exchanged fire after a North Korean naval vessel violated the NLL, the de facto maritime border in the Yellow Sea.

Three days later, the communist country fired anti-aircraft machine guns at balloons containing leaflets criticizing the authoritarian regime. After some of the shots landed south of border, the two sides traded machine gun fire.

Confirming the talks, another source from South Korea's military said the agenda would include "how to relieve inter-Korean military tensions that have been heightened recently," indicating that the two sides will touch upon the recent clashes along the border.

It is not known which side first suggested the meeting, but the military source said a notice Pyongyang sent to Seoul right after the clash in the Yellow Sea served as the momentum.

The two Koreas last held working-level military talks in February 2011 and general-level talks in December 2007.

The latest talks come some 10 days after high-ranking figures from the communist country made a surprise visit to South Korea and met with senior government officials here. The rare trip resulted in an agreement to hold another round of high-level talks in early November at the latest.

The inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom. (Yonhap file photo) The inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom. (Yonhap file photo)

graceoh@yna.co.kr

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