Military officers from North and South Korea have held talks inside the heavily guarded Demilitarised Zone in the rivals’ first official dialogue since the North’s deadly artillery barrage of a South Korean island in November.
Tensions on the divided peninsula rose sharply following the attack, which killed four people eight months after the sinking of a South Korean warship killed 46 sailors.
The South has blamed a North Korean torpedo attack, but Pyongyang has steadfastly denied involvement in the sinking.
Colonels from the two Koreas met in the border village of Panmunjom to set a date and work out logistics for higher-level defence talks aimed at discussing the two attacks last year, according to South Korea’s Defence Ministry.
“It’s not that cold today and I think today’s talks will go well,” Colonel Moon Sang-kyun, the chief South Korean delegate, said during a meeting with Unification Ministry officials in Seoul, ahead of his departure to the border.
If officers are able to agree on a meeting of defence chiefs, it would be the first such high-level defence meeting between the Koreas in more than three years.
The talks were taking place at a South Korean-controlled conference room at Panmunjom, a cluster of blue huts inside the heavily fortified, 154-mile-long Demilitarised Zone.
Uniformed North Korean soldiers walked single file to the conference room as South Korean military police stood by.
No journalists were allowed to cover the meeting, instead documented by two Defence Media Agency staff – a photographer and cameraman.
The talks were arranged as North Korea pushes for dialogue after weeks of threatening war. South Korean officials have said the North must take responsibility for the two attacks and change its pattern of raising tensions through provocation, then negotiating to win aid.