North, South Korea conclude talks | News | DW | 24.08.2015
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North, South Korea conclude talks

Seoul and Pyongyang have ended a standoff after two days of talks along the shared border. Tensions have reportedly been defused, ending cross-border artillery fire and mutual recriminations.

The two Koreas reached an agreement early Tuesday following talks at the truce village of Panmunjom, where the ceasefire was finalized in 1953.

The high-level negotiations began early Saturday evening, shortly after the passing of a deadline for Seoul to meet North Korea's demand to halt loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts across the border or face military action.

Seoul's lead negotiator, National Security Adviser Kim Kwan-Jin, said the North had agreed to a key demand to voice "regret" over recent mine blasts at the border that maimed two South Korean soldiers.

In return, the South agreed to halt its loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts by midday Wednesday.

The terms were confirmed in a rare joint statement issued separately from the two capitals.

UN chief hails accord

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon - a former South Korean diplomat - applauded the agreement, saying momentum from the deal could help manage other problems on the divided peninsula.

"I warmly welcome the news of an agreement reached between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea today," Ban said in a statement, using both countries official names.

Family reunion planned

The two have also reportedly agreed to work toward a resumption next month of reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, the AFP news agency reported.

The negotiations had been the highest-level talks between the two Koreas in a year.

In the background of the verbal jousting was a joint US-South Korea military exercise with fighter jets flying simulated bombing runs and North Korea reportedly deploying about 50 attack submarines.

jar/jil (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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