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    Two Koreas hold talks, anti-North leaflets dropped

    Reuters
    27.10.2008 - 15:03 | Son Güncelleme: 27.10.2008 - 15:03

    North Korea complained during rare military talks with the South on Monday about anti-Pyongyang leaflets being sent into its territory by balloons, with a South Korean civic group sending a new batch over the communist state.

    The talks were held despite a threat about 10 days ago from impoverished North Korea to cut off all ties with the South, a major supplier of aid and cash, in anger at the hardline policies of its president, whom it brands a U.S. sycophant.

    "North Korea pointed out that more leaflets have been sent recently and called on the South to find ways to stop this," South Korea's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

    South Korean groups have been sending the leaflets for years.

    Analysts said the recent wave appears to have touched a nerve because they mention a taboo subject in the North -- the health of leader Kim Jong-il, who was thought to have suffered a stroke in August.

    The leaflets, printed in water-proof ink on plastic sheets, carried the names of South Korean civilians and prisoners of war believed to be held in the North, and a family tree that supposedly maps Kim's relationships with the several women who bore his children, the groups said.

    In their first direct talks with the South since conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in February, North Korea said earlier this month the leaflets violated a deal reached between the two states, whose 1950-53 war was halted by a ceasefire.

    Lee's government has asked anti-North Korea civic groups to refrain from sending the leaflets but that did not stop two groups from sending skyward a batch that contained anti-Kim messages affixed with U.S. dollars and Chinese yuan.

    "North Korea is blaming us for the frayed ties between the two Koreas, but that's hogwash," said Park Sang-hak, who defected from the North and helped lead the leaflet launch. Park said he has no plans to stop the airborne message campaign.

    U.S. and South Korean officials said Kim may have fallen seriously ill in August, raising questions about leadership in Asia's only communist dynasty and also about who was making decisions about its nuclear weapons ambitions.

    The North's official cabinet newspaper said last week the leaflets were "getting on the nerves of the army and people of the DPRK (North Korea)," and could lead to a nuclear war.

    Lee angered North Korea by cutting off what once had been a steady stream of unconditional aid and by saying Seoul would tie its handouts to progress the North makes in ending its nuclear weapons program.

    In the Monday meeting, North Korea also wanted to improve hotlines set up along one of the world's most militarized borders aimed at preventing hostilities from escalating into fighting.

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