03/02/2006, 00.00
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Talks between Seoul and Pyongyang resume after two years

After nearly two years, representatives of the two Koreas meet in the demilitarized zone. It is the highest-level meeting since the end of the Korea war. Train links and navel security will top the agenda.

Panmunjeon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – After nearly two years of being suspended, military talks between the two Koreas have resumed. Generals in Seoul and Pyongyang have met in the village of Panmunjeon, in the demilitarized zone at the border between the two states. These are the most high-level talks since the end of the war in Korea in 1953: the two states are represented by two-star generals and not one-star, as in the past.

The aim of the meeting is to diminish military tension and to improve trade relations. Naval security is high on the agenda, as well as preventing a military confrontation in the Yellow Sea and train links.

South Korea wants the Yellow Sea to be a common fishing area: the area has in the past fuelled tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang. Besides, in the zone which separates the spheres of influence of the two Koreas, Chinese ships were sighted fishing against regulations. As for communication on land, Seoul is asking that security standards be respected. Although train links have been established between the two countries, trains have not yet crossed the border because of a lack of assurances.

Major General Han Min-koo, the South Korean delegate, expressed confidence that "many things will be resolved". The head of the Pyongyang negotiating team, Lt Gen. Kim Young Chul, has called for unity and cooperation to fight "foreign powers" - a reference to the United States, Seoul's ally.

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