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    Two Koreas to hold military talks Thursday: officials

    AFP
    01 Ekim 2008 - 12:37Son Güncelleme : 01 Ekim 2008 - 12:37

    North and South Korea have agreed to hold their first military talks for eight months on Thursday, the defense ministry said in Seoul, amid deadlock in a six-nation nuclear disarmament deal.

    The meeting will be at the truce village of Panmunjom, inside the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone dividing the peninsula, the ministry said.

     

    The North last week proposed resuming the working-level military talks in a rare overture to the South.

     

    "The North has accepted our counter-proposal to hold talks on Thursday," a ministry spokesman told AFP.

     

    "The agenda was not fixed but we believe tomorrows meeting will focus on the implementation of agreements reached at earlier talks."

     

    Pyongyang suspended all government-to-government contacts with Seoul after conservative President Lee took office in February with promises of a tougher North Korea policy.

     

    Ties soured further after North Korean soldiers in July shot dead a Seoul tourist who strayed into a restricted zone at a North Korean resort.

     

    The North has blamed the South for the incident and refused to let it send an investigation team. Seoul cancelled tours to the resort and withdrew staff.

     

    South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-Soo has said he hoped the military meeting would help thaw relations.

     

    The proposal for new talks came despite a deadlock in an international nuclear disarmament deal. The North has announced it will start work as early as this week to reactivate its plutonium reprocessing plant.

     

    U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill arrived in the North on Wednesday to try to persuade it to change course.

     

    At a rare summit in October 2007 involving Seoul’s then-liberal president, the two sides agreed in principle on sweeping joint economic projects. The new South Korean government says it will reassess the projects.

     

    The last working-level military talks in January were supposed to discuss ways to ease travel, customs clearance and communications at the Seoul-funded Kaesong industrial estate just north of the closely guarded border.

     

    But they ended without agreement.

     

    High-level military talks held in December 2007, to discuss a proposed joint fishing area to avert clashes in the Yellow Sea, also ended with no agreement.

     

    The two nations have remained technically at war since their 1950-1953 war ended with an armistice and not a peace pact.

     

    Photo: AP

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