Two Koreas to hold military talks after eight months

October 1st, 2008 - 8:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Seoul, Oct 1 (DPA) Military officers from North and South Korea are to meet Thursday for the first time in eight months, the defence ministry in Seoul said Wednesday.On the agenda at the talks in Panmunjom, a village inside the demilitarised zone dividing the two Koreas, is the implementation of agreements already made between the neighbours’ militaries, the ministry said.

In a surprise move last week, North Korea proposed to hold the discussions Tuesday, and South Korea’s military later accepted but moved the talks back two days.

It was the first offer by North Korea to hold such a dialogue since conservative South Korean President Lee Myung Bak took office in February.

Relations between the divided Koreas - which are still at war after an armistice and not a peace treaty ended the 1950-53 Korean War - has worsened since then as Lee took a more hardline stance against the North than his liberal predecessors. For instance, he linked an expansion of economic cooperation with the North with progress by Pyongyang in talks to end its nuclear programme.

The new discussions are to be held as North Korea prepares to revive work at its main nuclear site at Yongbyon, which it had promised to disable as part of its talks with South Korea, the US, China, Japan and Russia.

The top US negotiator in the talks, Christopher Hill, drove to Pyongyang from Seoul Wednesday after North Korea last week removed seals on its nuclear facilities that were placed there by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and said it would resume work at its plutonium-reprocessing plant.

The previous military talks were held in January.

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