(MENAFN- Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) The two Koreas wrapped up marathon negotiations at the truce village early Tuesday by reaching an agreement that would pave the way for reconciliation between the two states and defuse escalating military tension that had prevailed in the past days. North Korea apologized for land mine explosions in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). In response, Seoul agreed to suspend its psychological warfare broadcasts.
The two sides also agreed to hold reunions of families separated by the Korean War to mark the upcoming Chuseok holiday.
After wrapping up high-level inter-Korean talks at the truce village of Panmunjeom, the presidential office's national security chief, Kim Kwan-jin, held a news conference, saying "North Korea has expressed regret over the injuries of South Korean soldiers due to the land mine explosions south of the military demarcation line in the Demilitarized Zone." "As long as an unusual situation does not take place, all loudspeaker broadcasts in the Military Demarcation Line will be suspended from 12:00 p.m., August 25," he announced.
After the marathon negotiations that began Saturday, the North also agreed to lift the quasi-state of war issued in its southern border regions. The South Korean security chief stressed that the latest inter-Korean accords are based on the North's promise to prevent provocations in the DMZ. In a joint communique, the two Koreas also said that they will seek to hold more talks either in Seoul or Pyongyang in order to improve cross-border ties. They also agreed to hold family reunions for those separated by the Korean War around the upcoming Chuseok holiday in September. Related working-level Red Cross talks will begin early next month.
During his briefing at the presidential office, Kim noted that it is meaningful that the North apologized over the land mine explosions and promised to prevent such incidents. "North Korea had [repeatedly] created crises and anxieties for our citizens, and derived concessions from the South, but the North must have witnessed that [the repeated pattern] would never work with our government." the presidential national security spokesman said.
Kim said, however, that it is too early to discuss the possibilities of an inter-Korean summit.
On Saturday, Kim and Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo began discussions with the North's Director of Korean People's Army General Political Bureau Hwang Pyong-so and Workers' Party Secretary Kim Yang-gon in the first official high-level inter-Korean talks in a year and a half.
The first round of negotiations started approximately an hour and a half following the North's deadline after which it pledged to launch military action unless the South suspends its psy-ops. On Thursday, the two sides briefly exchanged fire at the heavily fortified buffer zone between the two Koreas as the North launched artillery shells in an apparent bid to threaten the South Korean military's psychological-warfare broadcast operations.
The North at Friday first proposed a meeting between the South Korean security chief, Kim Kwan-jin, and Kim Yang-gon, Pyongyang's point man on inter-Korean issues. The South is said to have responded two hours later, suggesting Hwang, widely regarded as the North's number-two figure, also be present at the meeting. On Saturday morning, the North proposed the current lineup before Seoul accepted the deal.
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