Skip to comments.North, South Korea agree to high-level military talks
Posted on 02/05/2004 10:02:42 PM PST by NormsRevenge
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North and South Korea agreed Friday to hold high-level military talks to ease tensions between the nations, divided by the world's most heavily fortified border and embroiled in a standoff over the North's nuclear weapons development.
The agreement came at the end of four days of Cabinet-level meetings.
"South and North agreed to hold a military official meeting soon to ease military tension on the Korean peninsula," the two countries said in a joint statement. It gave no details of the planned talks.
The Koreas held talks between their defense ministers in September 2000 but failed to open a second round of talks.
During this week's talks, the two Koreas also agreed to hold a new round of reunions in late March for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. The reunions will take place at the Diamond Mountain resort on North Korea's east coast.
The Koreas have hosted eight rounds of family reunions since a historic 2000 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.
On Friday, the countries also agreed to hold another round of Cabinet-level talks in the North's capital of Pyongyang on May 4-7. Other agreements included promoting a South Korean project to build an industrial park in North Korea and joint efforts to prevent floods in the border region.
The two Koreas had planned to wrap up talks on Thursday, but the talks dragged on as the two sides argued over the nuclear crisis.
South Korea's chief negotiator, Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun, insisted that Pyongyang make concessions on the nuclear issue before Seoul speeds up a host of investment projects that would help rebuild the North's tattered economy.
Jeong's North Korean counterpart, Kim Ryong Song, urged South Korea not to pursue such "rackets." North Korea often accuses Washington of pressuring South Korea to slow down investment in the North until the communist country agrees to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs.
Earlier this week, North Korea agreed to resume six-nation talks on the nuclear dispute with the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia.
South Korea wants the North to commit itself to a complete and verifiable dismantling of its nuclear programs during the six-nation meeting scheduled to begin in Beijing on Feb. 25.
North Korea says it will freeze its nuclear programs as a first step in resolving the dispute, but only if the United States lifts sanctions, resumes oil shipments and removes North Korea from its list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
Washington demands that North Korea first start dismantling its nuclear facilities.
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