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Two Koreas agree on Feb. 8 military talks

The two Koreas have agreed to hold working-level military talks at the South-controlled Peace House in the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjeom on Feb. 8, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

The agreement to talk came after a string of proposals and counterproposals between the two sides.

The North made a proposal last Saturday to hold the talks on Tuesday this week, which Seoul rejected, repeating it wants to hold the meeting on Feb. 11 as it originally suggested.

Earlier in the day, the communist state sent a faxed message to the ministry, proposing holding the talks next Tuesday. The ministry, later in the day, faxed a reply accepting the proposal.

The working-level talks ― aimed at coordinating details about the date, venue, agenda and level of representatives for high-level military talks ― are expected to be attended by colonel-level officials from both sides.

Last Wednesday, the South proposed holding the preliminary talks on Feb. 11 after Pyongyang on Jan. 20 suggested holding the talks to lay the groundwork for the high-level talks.

The North said it wanted to hold the high-level talks to explain its views on the sinking of the Cheonan in March and the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island in November, and discuss ways to address military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The two Koreas last held the working-level military talks in September in Panmunjeom.

The North’s overture for talks with the South was the latest in its recent peace offensive, apparently intended to add to a mood conducive to the resumption of the stalled multilateral denuclearization talks, which could help it ease its economic travails and solidify the ongoing hereditary power succession process.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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