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Sunday, August 23, 2015, 10:55

ROK, DPRK to resume high-level contact

By Xinhua

ROK, DPRK to resume high-level contact
Hwang Pyong So (front, left), director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), and Kim Kwan-jin (front right), chief of the National Security Office of the Republic of Korea (ROK), shake hands prior to their meeting in the truce village of Panmunjom, Aug 22, 2015. (Photo / Xinhua)

SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will resume the ongoing high-level emergency contact later Sunday after nearly 10 hours of their first-round talks, the ROK presidential office said.

Presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook told reporters that the senior-level contact lasted from 6:30 pm (0930 GMT) Saturday to 4:15 am Sunday at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarize zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas.

During the 10-hour marathon talks, both sides comprehensively discussed ways of resolving the recent situations and developing the inter-Korean relations, Min said.

After reviewing the positions of each other, the high-level contact will be resumed from 3 pm Sunday to narrow down differences, the spokesman added.

Top military aides to the leaders of the two Koreas met in Panmunjom, accompanied by high-ranking officials in charge of inter-Korean relations respectively.

Attendants at the closed-door meeting were Kim Kwan-jin, chief security advisor to ROK President Park Geun-hye, and Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo on the ROK side.

The DPRK side was represented by Hwang Pyong So, top military aide to top leader Kim Jong Un and director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army, and the United Front Department director Kim Yang Gon.

Kim and Hwang started the meeting with a smiling face and handshake, according to TV footage aired by ROK broadcasters. They met in October last year when Hwang visited Incheon, the ROK's western port city, to attend the closing ceremony of the Asian Games hosted by the ROK.

The DPRK's KCNA news agency reported the start of the high-level contact, referring to the ROK as its official name "Republic of Korea" in a very rare move that raised hopes for an end to tensions caused by landmine blasts and the exchange of artillery fires across border. Pyongyang usually called the ROK "puppet state."

The highest-level meeting since President Park took office in February 2013 was held to defuse the heightened tensions caused by cross-border exchange of artillery fires on Thursday over the ROK's propaganda broadcasts. The ROK said it fired back a volley of artillery after the DPRK's shelling, but Pyongyang said it was a fabrication.

Top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un ordered the country's frontline combined forces to enter a state of war from Friday, and Pyongyang warned that the ROK stop its propaganda campaign with loudspeakers along the border until 5 pm Saturday (0800 GMT) or face military actions.

The ROK threatened stern retaliation against any further provocation. Seoul and Washington raised their joint reconnaissance position toward the DPRK to the second highest Saturday. The ROK forces remained on the highest alert.

The cross-border shelling, which caused no damages and casualties, intensified the already escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula. On Aug. 4, three landmines detonated on the southern section of the DMZ, wounding two ROK soldiers on a patrol duty. Seoul claimed that those had been deliberately planted by DPRK forces, but Pyongyang denied any involvement.

From Aug 10, the ROK military resumed blaring the propaganda loudspeakers, silenced for the past 11 years, in frontline units in retaliation for the landmine blast. The DPRK threatened indiscriminate strikes against the loudspeakers.


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