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South, North Agree to Military Talks

Posted May. 07, 2004 21:00,   


South and North Korea dramatically agreed on May 7, the final day of the 14th Ministerial South-North Talks, to hold South-North military talks soon.

South and North Korea concluded their final conference without any agreements this day, but just before the southern delegation left Pyongyang for Seoul, North Korea changed its attitude and agreed to hold military talks.

Accordingly, South and North Korea announced an amendment to a previous joint press statement, which was released this morning, adding the sentence, “Both sides agreed to hold the military talks.”

Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun, who heads the South Korean delegation, revealed this day (just before he left the Korea Hotel, the lodging place for the southern delegation) that “Northern cabinet minister, Kwon Ho-ung, head of the Northern delegation, requested contact with top negotiators to inform them that ‘the military authorities had agreed to hold general-level military talks.’”

Minister Jeong said that “Minister Kwon said the talks would be held soon, and unlike the expression: ‘we recommend the military authorities to hold the general-level talks,’ in the 13th Ministerial Talks, it is highly probable to hold the military talks since we agreed to hold the talks in this meeting.” Minister Jeong predicted that they could be held this month.

But when the northern delegation said that “they recommend the military authorities hold the military talks” in the 13th Ministerial Talks, the Unification Ministry confidently declared that “they will be held.” But unlike the declaration of the Ministry, the military talks didn’t open. Therefore we will have to wait further to see whether the talks will be held this month or not.

In the final meeting this day, South and North Korea agreed to hold their 15th Ministerial Talks from August 3 to 6 in Seoul. They also reached an agreement to hold the 10th reunion of separated families and relatives at Mt. Kumgang from June 19 to June 24.

Seung-Jin Kim srkim@donga.com