North Korea, South Korea - Military Talks - Date Set

Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies

North, South Korea Set Date For Military Talks
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 - VOA

North and South Korea said Tuesday they have agreed on a February 8 date for the start of direct military talks.

That is three days earlier than the February 11 date proposed by Seoul. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak says if the talks go well and North Korea changes its behavior, he would be willing to meet Kim Jong Il for the first inter-Korean summit since 2007.

The working level talks at the border village of Panmunjom will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two Koreas since the North's deadly artillery attack on a South Korean island in November. They are meant to decide the date and agenda for higher-level talks aimed at easing tensions between the two countries.

Mr. Lee said during a televised discussion program Tuesday that he has high hopes that North Korea is ready to change its behavior after a series of provocative actions. He said the military talks provide “a good opportunity” for Pyongyang to show its intentions.

When asked if he is willing to meet his North Korean counterpart, Mr. Lee said, “We can have a summit if necessary.” But he repeated his demand that the North accept responsibility for the sinking of a South Korean warship and the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island before the reconciliation process can move forward.

The North has already said it will discuss the two incidents, but so far denies any role in the sinking of the Cheonan in March, and claims that the South provoked the attack on Yeonpyeong Island in November.

Mr. Lee said that if the North shows “sincerity,” higher-level meetings could address such issues as economic exchanges and a resumption of six-nation talks. The North has been seeking an early resumption of the six-party talks, aimed at having it dismantle its nuclear programs in exchange for badly needed economic assistance.

The leaders of North and South Korea have met only twice since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Those meetings came in 2000 and in 2007, a year before Mr. Lee was elected. After taking office, Mr. Lee ended a decade of unconditional economic aid to the North.

North, South Korea Set Date For Military Talks
Article from VOA

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