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North and South Korea hold direct military talks

Latest update : 2008-10-02

The first military talks between North and South Korea since president Lee Myung-Bak took office in Seoul earlier this year ended without progress. Meanwhile, US envoy Christopher Hill extended his stay in North Korea.

SEOUL, Oct 2 (Reuters) - The first talks between North and
South Korea since Pyongyang cut off dialogue this year in anger
at the South's new conservative leader ended shortly after they
began on Thursday without making progress.

The talks, proposed by the impoverished North and seen by
analysts as a possible olive branch heralding future
discussions, came as a U.S. nuclear envoy visited North Korea
trying to rescue a faltering international disarmament-for-aid

Colonels from the two Koreas met for about 90 minutes at
the Panmunjom peace village, straddling the heavily armed
border that has divided them for more than half a century.

Pool reports said the South had complained about insults to
its president in the North's official media while North Korea
demanded an apology over leaflets spread in the North by South
Korean human rights activists.

Just as the talks ended, the North's official media
separately issued a report calling President Lee Myung-bak "a
despicable human scum whom no one can trust or deal with".

In a surprise move last week, the North proposed the
meeting, the first direct contact for the two sides since Lee
took office in February. Lee vowed to end what had been a free
flow of aid to the North and instead tie handouts to progress
Pyongyang makes in scrapping its nuclear arms programme.

Fifty-five years after the truce which halted the Korean
War, North and South remain locked in tense confrontation.

Previous rounds of military talks focused on cutting
tension over the disputed sea border and along the
Demilitarised Zone that acts as a buffer between the states.
The last round was in January.

Tensions were aggravated in July when a North Korean
soldier shot dead a South Korean housewife when she was
sightseeing at a mountain resort just north of the border.

Date created : 2008-10-02