Jan 26 - Both North and South Korea have agreed upon a date for preliminary military talks to ease rising tensions. Julie Noce Reports
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South and North Korea have agreed to hold preliminary military talks on February 11th in an effort to quell rising tensions on the penninsula.
Relations between the two Koreas have become seriously strained over the past year.
Last March, a South Korean naval ship was torpedoed, although the North denies involvement... and in November, four people were killed when an island in the South was shelled by North Korean artillery. The North has agreed to discuss both incidents during the preliminary talks.
Seoul has also proposed holding bilateral talks with Pyonyyang to discuss it's uranium enrichment program.
(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN UNIFICATION MINISTRY SPOKESMAN CHUN HAE-SUNG SAYING:
"To sincerely develop inter-Korean relations and peace on the Korean peninsula, North Korea's desire to abandon nuclear facilities should be confirmed. For this we're urging the North to accept our proposal to hold a meeting between authorities of the two Koreas to clarify responsible position on the nuclear problem."
US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinburg is in the South Korean capital this week to discuss that very issue.
Steinburg said the international community should continue putting pressure on the communist nation to give up its nuclear pursuits.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE JAMES STEINBERG SAYING:
"It's very important that the international community send a strong message that the Uranium enrichment program, any Uranium enrichment program by North Korea would be in consistent with its international obligations with security council resolutions and with its own commitments under the joint declaration, 2005 joint declaration."
The North has expressed interest as of late to return to the 6-party aid-for-disarmament talks.
Analysts say this is a sign the country desperately needs outside help, as its impoverished economy continues to be squeezed by international sanctions.
Julie Noce, Reuters
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