Inter-Korea military talks collapse: official

By admin
Wednesday, February 9, 2011 9:01 EDT
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SEOUL — Military talks aimed at easing high tensions between North and South Korea collapsed Wednesday when the North’s delegation walked out, Seoul’s defence ministry said.

It was the first cross-border dialogue since the North’s deadly shelling of a South Korean island on November 23, which briefly sparked fears of war.

A ministry spokesman told AFP the North’s negotiators crossed the borderline 10 minutes after walking out of the meeting. “They even failed to discuss when to meet again,” he said.

“Under the current situation, we can say the talks have collapsed.”

The spokesman said he had no immediate details of the cause of the breakdown. The South had been demanding an apology for two border incidents last year which killed 50 South Koreans.

Four people including civilians died in the shelling of Yeonpyeong island near the disputed Yellow Sea border. The South also accuses the North of torpedoing a warship last March with the loss of 46 lives, a charge it denies.

The working-level talks at the border village of Panmunjom had been intended to set the date and agenda for higher-level military dialogue.

“The talks collapsed over differences over the agenda for high-level talks,” a defence ministry official was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

A ministry official quoted by YTN television said the atmosphere “was quite charged with emotion”.

Earlier Wednesday the South said it had agreed in principle to hold separate Red Cross talks on reunions for separated families. But it linked those talks to progress in the military dialogue.

The South insisted that the proposed high-level military talks discuss both the warship sinking and the shelling. It stressed that better relations would come only after the North apologises and punishes those responsible for them, a defence ministry statement said.

But the North proposed the agenda focus on “the stoppage of all military actions that can be considered as provocative acts by the other side”.

The North flatly denies any involvement in the sinking of the South’s warship.

It says its attack on Yeonpyeong was in response to a South Korean live-fire drill there, which dropped shells into waters claimed by the North.

The South’s unification ministry said separately it has accepted in principle the North’s proposal for Red Cross talks on family reunions and other humanitarian issues.

Tens of thousands of Koreans were separated from family members during the 1950-53 war. The occasional temporary reunions bring together only a fraction of those seeking to meet loved ones.

The date and venue should be agreed after the military talks are wrapped up, a spokeswoman said, reiterating the South’s call for the North to take “responsible measures” over the shelling and the warship sinking.

After the island attack, the South staged a series of military drills and began fortifying its frontline islands.

The North in response warned of nuclear war, but abruptly changed tack in January and launched a series of appeals for dialogue with the South.

China, the North’s ally and economic lifeline, is striving to revive six-party talks that offer the North economic and diplomatic benefits in return for nuclear disarmament.

However the United States, also a forum member along with the two Koreas, Japan and Russia, says the North must mend ties with the South before the nuclear dialogue can resume.

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  • Anonymous

    No surprises here. This has been North Korea’s modus operandi for 60 years.

  • Anonymous

    The sinking of the south Korean warship last fall was not done by North Korea.

    It is no wonder the North walked out of the talks.

    The west has been un cooperative and has no intention of dealing straight with the North.

    The West has been threatening the North since the Korean War when the North was almost obliterated, and 3 million North Koreans killed.

  • Wyrdless

    The South probably told them that if they embarrassed them one more time on the international arena, they would smash them further into the stone age.

    The north could never prevail against the South in a conventional fight it would be very one-sided, except for Seoul which would be trashed.

  • dolly lanna

    How do you know that the sinking of the So. Korean ship was not done by No. Korea? if not NK, then by whom?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XIQYYXEZAKRXD4NMO3WGXKWBMU Highway to God

    Its is pretty positive that the North didn’t sink that ship.

    I mean why? Then Why deny it?

    Why is it a frowned upon in S.K to question the official line that N.K sank the ship?

    It wasn’t a world consensus but, just US and SK.

    It seems to be a lot of holes are the investigator don’t want to answer anymore questions.
    They have decided it is fact.

    Facts are facts.

  • Anonymous

    The S Koreans learned well from their USmasters ,
    Say you want talks and then demand some preconditions you know the other side
    can or will not accept (like with Iran)
    If the other side walks out you can say “hey , we wanted to have talks but the other side walked out” .

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and don’t forget to run to the UN for sanctions

  • Anonymous

    Dolly Lanna

    I have searched for as much information on that subject since it happened.

    First of all the supposed attack by North Korea is doubtful as it does not make any sense; there was nothing for North Korea to gain.

    There was a lot to gain by the south Korean leader as he had been a more right wing leader, and wanted to strengthen his leadership.

    The USA has been showing force in close proximity to N Korea, and also to warn China.

    There were a number of things going on at that time involving military exercises by South Korea, and USA above water, and under water right by the explosion area.

    Google the subject and read between the lines.

    Not all experts agree with the findings.

    It smells to me and I am often right!

    67 years of world experience