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Third Round of Military Talks Planned

Posted February. 22, 2006 04:32,   


A third round of two-day inter-Korean high-level military talks is scheduled for March 2 at Tongilgak, on the northern side of the Panmunjeom truce village. The talks are resuming a year and nine months after the second round of talks held at Mt. Seorak in June 2004.

“On February 20, North Korea proposed over the phone that the talks be held on March 2. We accepted the North’s proposal this morning,” a Ministry of National Defense official said yesterday. Earlier, the two Koreas’ working-group heads contacted each other on February 3 and had agreed to hold a third round of high-level military talks sometime between February and early March.

Both the South and the North had also consented to open a third round of talks during the 15th inter-Korean ministerial talks last June. But the North requested a change of venue, which the South agreed to, the Defense Ministry said.

The two sides are expected to specifically discuss military safeguards on the road and railway passages of the Gyeongui Line and Donghae Line.

The two Koreas had agreed on pilot operation of the Gyeongui and Donghae lines at the ninth round of Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee in 2004, but it did not lead to actual operations due to the absence of the military safeguards.

The South also plans to negotiate the normalization of the daily operation of an inter-Korean wireless communication network. This would address the communication malfunction problems in the presence of North Korean war vessels in silent zones in the West Sea with the purpose of preventing a recurrence of naval clashes there.

Col. Moon Seong-mook, the chief of the North Korean policy team at the Defense Ministry, said, “The inter-Korean general-level defense talks are necessary for military confidence-building and tension relief, and this issue will be on the agenda of the talks.”

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com