North and South Korea Representatives Hold Military Talks

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Generals from North and South Korea have held military talks for the first time in more than three years at a border village on how to ease animosities between the countries after two shooting incidents last week, South Korean media has reported.

The discussions in Panmunjom were expected to have focused on how to ease tensions along the sea boundary, the scene of several bloody inter-Korean naval skirmishes in recent years, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing unidentified South Korean government and ruling party sources.

The meeting is also thought to have discussed the dropping of anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets.

The talks come nearly a week after the two Koreans traded gunfire after South Korean activists floated balloons carrying leaflets across the border.

North Korea has long demanded that South Korea prohibit activists from dropping leaflets, which Pyongyang considers a hostile act, but South Korea has refused, citing freedom of speech.

Earlier, senior opposition politician Park Jie-won told a party meeting that the agenda for Wednesday’s talks would include the sea boundary dispute and the propaganda balloons, according to a statement posted on his website.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry and its Unification Ministry said they could not confirm the talks.

The meeting represent the first military talks between the two Koreans since early 2011, according to South Korean defense officials.

Yonhap said North Korea had asked for South Korea not to publicize the meeting.

Last week, the two countries’ navies exchanged warning shots along their disputed sea boundary.

There were no reports of casualties from either incident, which served as a reminder of tensions running high on the divided Korean Peninsula.

After the gunfire exchange, South Korea said it would sternly deal with any further provocations by North Korea, but stressed that the door for dialogue remained open.

Hopes for better relations were given a boost after a group of high-level North Korean officials made a rare visit to South Korea earlier this month and agreed to resume senior-level talks.

South Korea has said the senior-level talks will be among government officials, not military officers.

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