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China welcomes DPRK, ROK agreement to ease tensions
Kim described the North’s expression of “regret” over the fact the mine blast left the two soldiers injured as an apology and said the loudspeaker campaign would end at noon Tuesday unless an “abnormal” event occurs.
Even as the two countries held talks over the weekend, South Korea’s military said North Korea continued to prepare for a fight, moving unusual numbers of troops and submarines to the border.
On Saturday, the two Koreas’ envoys began talks on the border crisis following tensions that saw an exchange of fire, a land mine explosion in the demilitarized border zone and S. Korea’s “propaganda broadcasts.”
“It was a very tense several days”, US State Department spokesman John Kirby told a regular briefing.
The talks that began on Saturday in Panmunjom between top aides to both countries’ leaders have so far failed to thrash out a mutually acceptable way to calm the situation.
They were held against a background of continually rising tensions, with South Korea and U.S. fighter jets flying simulated bombing sorties, and North Korea reportedly deploying two thirds of its 70-vessel submarine fleet.
South Korea’s national security advisor, Kim Kwan-jin, announced the joint agreement at the presidential “Blue House”, saying Pyongyang met Seoul’s key condition that it apologize for the recent provocations.
“Although the North did not offer a direct and clear apology, we need to compare the agreement this time with the North’s attitudes toward its past provocations”, the official said on background.
South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye said, according to the BBC, that the deal “could serve as an occasion to resolve all inter-Korean issues through trust”.
The North’s Korean Central News Agency released the same details.
South Korea and North Korea will later Tuesday lift the orders placing their militaries on the highest alert from, the defence ministry here said. Seoul responded by broadcasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda.
South Korea had accused the North of firing first; the North had flatly denied the allegations.
Both sides quickly played their part, as the South called time on its loudspeaker campaign while Pyongyang came out of its self-declared semi-war state. South Korea blamed the North for placing the mines recently, and the South thus resumed its propaganda efforts, which it had stopped more than a decade ago.
Seoul and Pyongyang have remained technically in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean war ended in a truce, rather than a peace treaty, and hopes for improved relations have repeatedly been dashed over the years.