The Latest: Seoul to halt broadcasts; N Korea shows regret

AP News
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Posted: Aug 24, 2015 2:54 PM
The Latest: Seoul to halt broadcasts; N Korea shows regret

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The latest on the tensions on the Korean Peninsula (all times local):

TUESDAY 3.51 a.m.

The U.S. is welcoming an agreement between South and North Korea to defuse the stand off at their heavily guarded border.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. was hopeful the agreement would decrease the tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Kirby described the agreement as a compromise, and reiterated Washington's "ironclad" security alliance with Seoul. He said it was now up to North Korea "to act and not simply make assurances" about its military activities along the border.

After marathon talks, South Korea agreed to halt propaganda broadcasts after North Korea expressed regret over a recent land mine blast that maimed two South Korean troops.

The stand off has played out as the U.S. and its close ally South Korea have been conducting military drills that anger North Korea.

— Matthew Pennington, Washington, D.C.

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2:15 a.m.

South Korea says it has agreed to halt propaganda broadcasts at noon after North Korea expressed regret over a recent land mine blast that maimed two South Korean troops.

South Korean presidential security adviser Kim Kwan-jin made the announcement in a televised briefing early Tuesday, after more than 30 hours of talks with North Korea ended.

The talks were the second round of negotiations the rival Koreas began Saturday after events at their heavily guarded border pushed them to the brink of a possible military confrontation.

Kim says the two Koreas have also agreed to hold talks to improve their ties soon in either Seoul or Pyongyang.

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1:45 a.m.

South Korea says high-level talks with North Korea over how to defuse rising tensions have ended.

In a statement, South Korea's presidential office says the talks ended early Tuesday, more than a day after they began at the border village of Panmunjom.

The statement says chief South Korean delegate and presidential security adviser Kim Kwan-jin will announce the results of the discussions shortly.

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11:35 a.m.

As talks between North and South Korean officials continued into a third day Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye insisted that anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts across the border will continue unless the North apologizes for planting land mines that Seoul says maimed two South Korean soldiers.

The negotiations aimed at defusing tensions as North Korea threatened imminent war have continued for about 31 hours — nearly 10 hours during the first session Saturday and 21 hours since the second session began Sunday.

Park told top aides that Seoul would not "stand down even if North Korea ratchets up provocation to its highest level and threatens our national security." She said Seoul needs "a definite apology" and a promise that such provocations would not recur.

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SUNDAY 10:20 p.m.

High-level talks between North and South Korea have stretched deep into the night again.

The first round of talks between the rivals, who are trying to defuse mounting tensions that have pushed them to the brink of a possible military confrontation, lasted 10 hours, starting Saturday evening and ending just before dawn Sunday.

They resumed the talks Sunday afternoon, and were still meeting late Sunday night.

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4:30 p.m.

Even as North and South Korea resumed talks Sunday, South Korea's military is reporting that it detected unusual troop and submarine movements in North Korea that indicated Pyongyang was strengthening its capacity for a possible strike.

An official from Seoul's Defense Ministry, who didn't want to be named because of office rules, says about 70 percent of the North's more than 70 submarines and undersea vehicles had left their bases and were undetectable by the South Korean military as of Saturday.

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

"It seems that the North is pursuing dialogue on one side and preparing for battle on another side," he said.

— Tong-hyung Kim, Seoul

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4 p.m.

South Korea's presidential office says South Korean and North Korean officials have resumed the second round of talks in the border village of Panmunjom on Sunday.

— Tong-hyung Kim, Seoul

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1:30 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is welcoming the dialogue between the two Koreas and is urging both sides to de-escalate the situation.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, Ban called on the two sides to "redouble efforts to resolve differences through dialogue while refraining from taking any measure that is not conducive to dialogue."

The statement says Ban took note of the agreement to resume the discussions later Sunday.

— Edith Lederer, United Nations

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10:15 a.m.

North Korean media have reported that more than 1 million young people have volunteered to join or rejoin the military to defend their country should a conflict break out with the rival South Korea and its U.S. ally.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency reports that "young people across the Democratic People's Republic of Korea are turning out in the sacred war for defending the country with their faith and will to annihilate the enemies."

Despite such highly charged rhetoric in the media, which is itself not particularly unusual, activity in the capital remains normal and calm Sunday.

People in Pyongyang are going about their daily routines as usual.

Truckloads of soldiers singing martial songs can occasionally be seen driving around the city, and a single minivan with camouflage netting was parked near the main train station for a time as the talks with South Korea began Saturday and are set to resume later Sunday.

— Eric Talmadge, Pyongyang

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5:15 a.m.

South Korea's presidential spokesman says the first-high-level talks in nearly a year between South Korea and North Korea have adjourned and will resume Sunday afternoon.

The rivals, who are trying to defuse mounting tensions that have pushed them to the brink of a possible military confrontation, began their meeting in the border village of Panmunjom at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Spokesman Min Kyung-wook said the meeting adjourned at 4:15 a.m. Sunday and the two delegations will resume talks at 3 p.m. (0600 GMT, 2 a.m. EDT). He did not disclose any other details about the talks.

The talks were held shortly after a Saturday 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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1:15 a.m.

The first high-level talks in nearly a year between South Korea and North Korea have stretched into the early hours of Sunday.

The rivals, who are trying to defuse mounting tensions that have pushed them to the brink of a possible military confrontation, began their meeting in the border village of Panmunjom early Saturday evening.

An official from South Korea's presidential Blue House said after midnight that the talks were still going on, and that the delegates were taking a break. Marathon talks are not unusual for the Koreas, who have had long negotiating sessions in recent years over much less momentous issues.

The talks were held shortly after a Saturday 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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6:50 p.m.

High-level talks between North Korea and South Korea have begun in an effort to defuse mounting tensions that have pushed the rivals to the brink of a possible military confrontation.

An official from South Korea's Unification Ministry, who didn't want to be named because of office rules, says Saturday's talks are being held at the border village of Panmunjom.

The meeting comes after a Saturday deadline set by North Korea for South Korea to dismantle loudspeakers broadcasting anti-North Korean propaganda at their border. North Korea has declared its front-line troops are in full war readiness and prepared to go to battle if Seoul doesn't back down.

The South Korean presidential office said earlier that the country's national security director, Kim Kwan-jin, and Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo would sit down with Hwang Pyong So, the top political officer for the Korean People's Army, and Kim Yang Gon, a senior North Korean 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.

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