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SKorea: NKorea agrees to military talks on cross-border train tests

SKorea: NKorea agrees to military talks on cross-border train tests

North Korea agreed Wednesday to meet South Korea for military talks aimed at approving security arrangements for historic test runs of trains across their heavily armed border, the South's Defense Ministry said.
Although Seoul originally proposed that the talks should take place this week in the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, the North said it would prefer if they could be scheduled for three days starting next Tuesday, according to the ministry.
The North also proposed upgrading the rank of the negotiators to generals. The South had proposed a meeting of working-level officers.
South Korea will say if it accepts the proposal after consultations.
The meeting would be the first military contact between the two sides in nearly a year.
Trains have not crossed the border in more than 50 years, and the South has yet to win approval from the North Korean military for security arrangements for the rail tests.
The two sides agreed during economic talks last month to conduct the rail tests on May 17, but that accord lacked consent from the North's military. Last year, the North called off planned rail tests at the last minute, saying its military did not agree to them.
The North's military has refused to agree to the rail tests citing the South's rebuff of its long-running demand that their western sea border be redrawn.
North Korea doesn't recognize the current sea border, demarcated by the United Nations at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, and has long claimed that it should be further south.
The waters around the border are rich fishing grounds and boats from the two Koreas routinely jostle for position during the May-June crab-catching season. In 1999 and 2002, their navies fought deadly skirmishes, killing several sailors and sinking six ships.
The two Koreas remain technically at war since the war ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.


Updated : 2021-05-07 00:10 GMT+08:00