Rival Koreas restart talks, pull back from brink _ for now

AP News
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Posted: Aug 23, 2015 3:29 AM
Rival Koreas restart talks, pull back from brink _ for now

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Senior officials from North and South Korea resumed a second round of talks on Sunday that temporarily pushed aside vows of imminent war on the peninsula.

South Korea's presidential office said the talks restarted in the border village of Panmunjom.

The delegates failed to reach an agreement in Saturday's marathon talks that stretched into the early hours of Sunday, and it was still unclear whether diplomacy would defuse what has become the most serious confrontation in years.

South Korea's military reported Sunday that it detected unusual troop and submarine movements in North Korea that indicated Pyongyang was strengthening its capacity for a possible strike.

About 70 percent of the North's 77 submarines had left their bases and were undetectable by the South Korean military as of Saturday, said an official from Seoul's Defense Ministry, who didn't want to be named because of office rules.

The official also said that the North had doubled the strength of its front-line artillery forces since the start of the high-level talks early Saturday evening.

The talks involve Kim Kwan-jin, presidential national security director, and Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo, from the South Korean side, and from the North, Hwang Pyong So, the top political officer for the Korean People's Army, and Kim Yang Gon, a senior official responsible for South Korean affairs.

Hwang is considered by outside analysts to be North Korea's second most important official after supreme leader Kim Jong Un.

The first round of the talks started shortly after a deadline set by North Korea for the South to dismantle loudspeakers broadcasting anti-North Korean propaganda at their border. North Korea had declared that its front-line troops were in full war readiness and prepared to go to battle if Seoul did not back down.

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Klug reported from Seoul, South Korea. Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul contributed to this report.