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(News Focus) N. Korea short of clear apology for landmine attack

2015/08/25 05:30

SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) -- In a highly unusual move, North Korea expressed regret Tuesday over a recent landmine incident that maimed two South Korean soldiers.

Announcing the results of high-level talks with the South, however, the North stopped short of offering a clear apology.

"The north side expressed regret over the recent mine explosion that occurred in the south side's area of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) along the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), wounding soldiers of the south side," the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The South said the North was behind the attack, pressing Pyongyang to apologize and promise not to take such heinous action again.

Many agree that the North's expression of regret itself is a big accomplishment for the South, given its traditional refusal to acknowledge its responsibility for attacks on the South, including the 2010 torpedo attack on a warship.

Even so, the six-point agreement reached after the three-day talks left something to be desired.

South Korea's negotiator, Kim Kwan-jin, President Park Geun-hye's top security adviser, apparently focused on drawing the North's apology for the landmine case.

But he seems to have lowered the bar in order to reach a deal in the rare meeting and avert a looming armed clash.

Kim's counterpart, Hwang Pyong-so, the North Korean military's chief political officer, also rejected the South's call for making a commitment not to repeat such a military provocation.

There was no reference either to the North's recent firing of a rocket toward the South that appeared to target loudspeakers along the border that send anti-Pyongyang messages.

Despite such a limited success in high-level talks, it's meaningful that the two sides resolved a stand-off through dialogue and paved the way for more dialogue, observers said. The South's government demonstrated its firm stance not to accept any more North Korean provocations, they added.

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