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(5th LD) N.K agrees to hold military talks, send Olympic delegation to South

2018/01/09 21:29

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(ATTN: REWRITES headline, lead; UPDATES with more info throughout)

PANMUNJOM, Korea, Jan. 9 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- North Korea on Tuesday accepted Seoul's proposal to hold military talks to reduce tensions and agreed to send a delegation to next month's Winter Olympics in the South, according to a joint statement issued after their high-level talks.

In their first formal dialogue in two years at the border village of Panmunjom, they also agreed to activate cooperation and exchanges through diverse levels of talks, Seoul officials said.

The agreement marked a major breakthrough in years of frosty ties between the two countries and in heightened tensions over the North's provocations.

North Korea said earlier in the day that it will send a delegation of high-ranking officials and others, including athletes, cheering and performing arts squads, taekwondo demonstration teams and journalists, to the games.

They will hold working-level talks to further discuss details of the North's participation.

The two Koreas also decided to hold military talks to discuss ways to reduce border tensions. Seoul proposed such a meeting in July last year.

But South Korea's proposal to hold a Red Cross meeting for reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War around the Lunar New Year's holiday was not included in a joint press statement.

The meeting came after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un extended a rare offer of rapprochement to Seoul in his New Year's Day message. He expressed a willingness to send a delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics and said his country is open for dialogue.

North Korea accepted Seoul's dialogue offer Friday after the South and the United States agreed to postpone their military drills until after the Olympics. It also reopened a long-disconnected border hotline.

This photo, taken by the Joint Press Corps on Jan. 9, 2018, shows South Korea's chief delegate Cho Myoung-gyon (L) shaking hands with his North Korean counterpart Ri Son-gwon before holdinghigh-level talks between South and North Korea. (Yonhap) This photo, taken by the Joint Press Corps on Jan. 9, 2018, shows South Korea's chief delegate Cho Myoung-gyon (L) shaking hands with his North Korean counterpart Ri Son-gwon before holdinghigh-level talks between South and North Korea. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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