February 09, 2011 09:01
Colonels from the two Koreas met at the truce village of Panmunjom on Tuesday to discuss the agenda for formal high-level military talks but reached no conclusion. "The two sides discussed the agenda, the level of chief delegates, timing, and venue for high-level military talks but failed to reach agreement due to differences in views," a Defense Ministry official said.
The main point of contention was apparently the question of how North Korea's attacks on the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island last year are to be discussed, but a government official said it is "likely" that the two sides will reach agreement Wednesday since they "have the will" to hold high-level military talks somehow.
The North Korean delegates reportedly said "everything," including the two attacks, should be discussed in the main talks. The South Korean delegates stressed that there can be no progress in inter-Korean relations unless the North first apologizes for the two attacks and promises to prevent further provocations.
But the North Korean delegates were quoted by the ministry as calling for discussion of the "Cheonan incident" and the "artillery duel" over Yeonpyeong Island as well as the issue of reducing military tensions "that can be considered mutual provocations." They said calling for discussion of the two attacks alone" is tantamount to rejecting the high-level military talks."
The ministry official said, "We didn't accept the North Korean side's suggestion because we consider it an attempt to gloss over their attacks on the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island by bringing up the issue of the Northern Limit Line," the de facto maritime border which the North disputes.
As for the chief delegates, the South proposed the talks are led either by the defense ministers from the two sides or by the chairman of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, a four-star general, and the chief of the General Staff, a vice marshal, from the North. But the North Korean delegates proposed vice ministers and deputy chiefs.
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