UNC, NK discuss holding of general-level talks
By Jung Sung-ki
Army officers from the United Nations Command (UNC) and North Korea held talks Tuesday to discuss the protocols and agenda for holding high-level military talks between the two sides, the UNC said.
The colonel-level meeting at the truce village of Panmunjeom, the fourth of its kind since July 15, took place amid escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula, following the North’s artillery barrage off the west coast into the sea border with the South, Monday.
Both sides agreed to hold another round of talks in the near future, the U.S.-led command said in a press release.
“The meeting lasted two hours and ten minutes, and the parties continued to discuss the protocols and agenda for holding General Officer Talks on the sinking of the Republic of Korea Ship Cheonan,” the release said.
South Korea believes the frigate Cheonan was sunk by a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine in March in the West Sea, while Pyongyang has denied any involvement in the incident.
Forty-six sailors were killed in the naval disaster.
Soaring tensions between the two Korea further escalated this week after the North fired nearly 120 artillery shells near their western sea border, shortly after the South's military wrapped up a five-day naval exercise in the area.
About 10 of the shells landed on the South's side of the Northern Limit Line, the volatile western sea border between the two Koreas.
In previous meetings held from last month, the UNC and North Korea had made little progress toward the generals’ talks as North Korea repeated its denial of responsibility for the ship sinking and renewed calls to send its own team of inspectors to the South to review the investigation results.
The UNC proposed a task force to jointly assess whether the sinking violated the armistice agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
The generals’ talks have served as a measure to ease tensions on the divided peninsula since 1998.
The UNC, which monitors the Korean War armistice, is led by the top U.S. commander in the South. The U.S. has some 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea.