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S. Korea's military not rushing to talks with N. Korea: official

2018/01/12 15:07

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SEOUL, Jan. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has no plan to offer a date for the agreed-upon military talks with North Korea until the decision on the size of its delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, a defense official said Friday.

The two Koreas are expected to hold working-level consultations as early as next week in a follow-up to their high-level meeting Tuesday.

Agenda items would include the number of the North's athletes, cheerleaders, art performers and reporters to next month's Olympic Games and other relevant issues.

"With regard to the (upcoming) South-North military talks, the focus is the successful hosting of the PyeongChang Olympics," the senior Ministry of National Defense official told reporters in a background briefing.

The ministry will wait until the delegation-related issues are addressed, he added.

On the inter-Korean military hotline, he said it's in operation on a "limited" basis due to a technical reason.

The two sides relinked the Yellow Sea military communication line earlier this week, nearly two years after it was severed unilaterally by the North.

They are test-operating the channel four times a day, with only the telephone communication available, according to the official.

"There's no problem in (verbal) communication despite some noise, as aged copper cables are in use," he said, adding fax communication for document exchanges remains severed.

The North apparently cut the fiber optic cables for the military hotline in early 2016, disconnecting the hotline in protest at the South's shutdown of the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

"We will likely have to install new fiber optic cables, but it requires consultations with the Unification Ministry," as the matter is associated with the U.N. sanctions on the communist regime, he said.

The two Koreas have a separate hotline operated by the Unification Ministry through the truce village of Panmunjom. It enables inter-Korean fax services.

lcd@yna.co.kr

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