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South, North Korea sign deal to reduce tensions
North and South Korea, after two days of endless negotiations, have finally decided to put an end to the dispute that rose with the exchange of artillery fire, dividing the peninsula into a state of heightened military tension. The two sides will seek to resume the reunions of families separated by the Korean War, while North Korea expressed its regret over August 4 mine explosions that maimed two South Korean soldiers.
Under the six-point agreement, both sides also agreed to hold an inter-governmental dialogue to improve ties. In the agreement, North Korea expressed regret over its aggression against South Korea, a complete reversal of its previous position.
A South Korea’s unification ministry official said the country will make efforts to regularly hold talks with the DPRK.
On the prolonged talks, the former defense minister said the two sides had initially had wide differences on the land mine incident but that the South insisted on drawing out a promise from the North that such provocations would not recur.
Seoul had resumed the broadcasts after an 11-year hiatus in response to the mine blast.
Hwang, the top political officer in the Korean People’s Army, said the South learned a “serious lesson” that it should not provoke the North by “creating a groundless incident” that raised tension and increased the possibility of a military clash.
As per the report, the loudspeakers were set up in 11 locations along the border and blared out 3-hour long propaganda thrice a day timed randomly to prevent North from trying to drown them out with its own broadcasts.
“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 had accused the North of firing first; the North had flatly denied the allegations.
The details of the agreement are expected to be announced later in the morning by South Korea’s Security Advisor Kim Kwan Jin.
The latest border crisis between North and South Korea has been resolved, and North Korea managed to achieve its main goal: getting the plug pulled on South Korea’s massive propaganda loudspeakers.
South Korea in turn promised to stop propaganda broadcasts across the border on Tuesday afternoon.
Seoul and Pyongyang remain technically in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.
North Korea agreed to lift the order of its forces to enter a state war.
Lee Soo-seok, a chief of unification research team of the Institute for National Security Strategy, is quoted as saying by a local media outlet, “Once the negotiation fails, what the North, which declared military action, can do is to blow the loudspeaker only”. “Until now, North Korea gained concessions from the South by stoking tensions among our people”.
The standoff exacerbated the turmoil in South Korea’s financial markets, triggering a selloff that sent the Korean won to a four-year low and drained more than $900 million from Korean equities in a week.