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Amid Uncertainty And Tensions, Koreas Begin A Second Round Of Talks

Armed South Korean soldiers cross a bridge on a truck in the border town of Paju, South Korea, on Sunday, as negotiators from the South and North Korea resumed talks.
Armed South Korean soldiers cross a bridge on a truck in the border town of Paju, South Korea, on Sunday, as negotiators from the South and North Korea resumed talks.

Representatives from the rival Koreas are sitting down for a second day of talks at the village of Panmunjom in an effort to defuse a border crisis that has threatened to push them into a larger conflict.

The talks follow artillery duels last week at the border as South Korea blared anti-Pyongyang propaganda into the North using giant loudspeakers. The North responded with an ultimatum and the talks got underway just hours before that deadline was to have expired.

It's not clear what, if any, progress was made at the first round of talks — which began Saturday evening and lasted for 10 hours — nor what might come out of a further round. As The Associated Press notes: "the conversation itself is considered somewhat of a victory."

The AP writes: "As the second round of talks began today, South Korea's military reported Sunday that it detected unusual troop and submarine movements in North Korea."

Reuters adds:

"[The] rivals were on high military alert, with the North deploying twice the usual artillery strength at the border and a majority of its submarine fleet — more than 50 vessels — away from bases, the South's defense ministry said.

"South Korea, whose military was also on higher alert, said it had no plans to halt the propaganda broadcasts that triggered the latest standoff."

The BBC reports:

"No media organisations are present at the talks, which took place inside the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) which divides the two Koreas.

"South Korea said ahead of the talks that it would be represented by national security adviser Kim Kwan-jin and Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo, and the North would send senior officials Hwang Pyong-so and Kim Yong-gon.

"Mr Hwang is seen by many analysts as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's second-in-command."

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