Wednesday 18 July 2018

Peace talks fruitful as 'regretful' North Korea backs down

North Koreans sign up to join the army in the midst of political tension with South Korea. Photo: Reuters
North Koreans sign up to join the army in the midst of political tension with South Korea. Photo: Reuters
South Korean army soldiers ride on a truck in Paju, south of the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, South Korea. Photo: AP
Protesters hold onto a North Korean flag as the police try take it away from them during an anti-North Korea rally at a checkpoint on the Grand Unification Bridge which leads to the truce village Panmunjom, just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. Photo: Reuters
South Korean National Security Adviser Kim Kwan-jin (R), South Korean Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo (2nd R), Secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea Kim Yang Gon (2nd L), and Hwang Pyong-so (L), the top military aide to the North's leader Kim Jong Un, shake hands after the inter-Korean high-level talks at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas. Photo: Reuters
South Korean amy soldiers stand guard on Unification Bridge, which leads to the demilitarized zone, near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea. Photo: AP
North Koreans who signed up to join the army train in the midst of political tension with South Korea. Photo: Reuters

James Rothwell in Tokyo

North Korea has promised to cause no further provocation to South Korea and expressed "regret" for its actions in a last-minute climbdown which is hoped will prevent open warfare on the peninsula.

The two Koreas had been locked in tense negotiations in an abandoned village on the peninsula’s border after regime leader Kim Jong-Un declared a “quasi state of war” on Friday.

But at 2am local time it was revealed the crisis talks had ended with both sides agreeing on a truce.

For its part, South Korea promised it would cease blaring out anti-Pyongyang propaganda from loudspeakers at noon today.

The loudspeakers are said to have triggered this week’s violent tensions on the peninsula and led to an exchange of artillery fire.

North Korea added that it would lift its “quasi war status” and both sides are said to have agreed on working to reunite families separated in the Korean war.

The regime also apologised for a landmine blast which maimed two South Korean soldiers, a gesture which Seoul has welcomed as “very meaningful.”

It comes as North Korea previously announced it had deployed an “invasion force” of 10 hovercraft to the Yellow Sea as tense crisis talks with South Korea entered their fourth day.

The hovercraft are designed to launch special invasion forces ashore on South Korean beaches.

 Its hovercraft move emerged as the US Army sent a B-52 Stratofortress “bunker-buster” warplane to the North Korean border amid escalating violence between the regime and its southern counterpart.

It also planned to dispatch a nuclear submarine, currently based at its Yokosuka naval base in Japan, to waters off the Korean peninsula.

The display of force was hoped to act as a deterrent to Mr Kim, whose state broadcasters have threatened to turn South Korea into a “sea of fire” and accused its leaders of being “puppet war maniacs”.

According to military officials in Seoul, the North Korean hovercraft were seen leaving their home port at Cholsan and moving to an advanced base 65km north of the Northern Limit Line, the disputed border off the west coast of the peninsula.

Irish Independent

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