North and South Korea have finally wrapped up their three-day marathon talks and have agreed on a series of measures to deflate the growing border tension between them.
Both the nations signed a joint agreement in which North Korea “expressed regret” over the recent mine blasts in which two South Korean soldiers on border patrol were maimed. In return, South Korea agreed to stop the loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts at the border into the North’s territory. South Korea resumed these broadcasts after a break of more than a decade as a retaliatory measure against South’s mine blasts.
The rival countries were on almost on the brink of an armed conflict because of the rise of the rise in tension. According to the joint statement, South Korea will turn off the broadcasts midday on Tuesday and only after that North Korea will lift the “semi-war state” declared Kim Jong-Un last week.
“I hope that from now on, (both sides) sincerely implement the agreement and build trust through dialogue and cooperation in order to build new inter-Korean ties that meet the people’s expectations,” said South Korea’s lead negotiator and National Security Advisor Kim Kwan-Jin.
The two nations also agreed to work towards a resumption of reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War from the next month. Also, both countries will hold official talks in either Seoul or Pyongyang at a later date yet to be decided.
The agreement appeared to cover all the major areas of contention and came after day and night of gruelling negotiations. The talks had begun on Saturday in the border truce village of Panmunjom.
Tension, however, continued to rise during the talks. South Korean and US jets flew simulated bombing runs while North Korea had reportedly deployed two third of its 70-vessel submarine fleet.
Last week the military stand-off between the rival countries triggered a rare artillery exchange over the border with both sides ramping up their military rhetoric and flexing their weapons.
The current Panmunjom talks are the highest-level inter-Korean talks in nearly an year.
North Korea’s climbing down from their position and expressing regret came as a big surprise to most experts. Earlier the country had repeatedly denied any responsibility in the blasts, and refused to apologise. Many believe that North Korea expressing “regret” effectively amounts to issuing a public apology.
Both leaders, Kim Kwan-Jin from South Korea and Hwang Pyong-So from the North, agreed that measures decided in the joint statement will not only settle the current crisis but also provide a “new momentum” for inter-Korean relations in the future.