North, South Korea to Hold Military Talks

The divided Koreas will hold working-level military talks next week in the border village of Panmunjom, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said Thursday.

The talks will follow up on agreements reached at high-level military talks earlier this month, the official said on condition of anonymity, citing ministry protocol.

At the earlier negotiations, the rival neighbors put the final touches on a security agreement for a historic test-run of a train service across their heavily armed border. The test, which happened two weeks ago, marked the first time trains have crossed the tightly sealed border since the 1950-53 Korean War.

During the discussions, North Korea also raised the issue of sea border disputes, and that issue was expected to be further explored at the talks beginning June 8.

The North's navy command has warned that a skirmish along the disputed maritime border in the Yellow Sea — the scene of deadly clashes in 1999 and 2002 — could occur unless Seoul stops entering the North's waters.

North Korea doesn't recognize the current sea border demarcated by the United Nations at the end of the Korean War, and has long claimed it should be further south.

The waters around the border are rich fishing grounds, and boats from the two Koreas often jostle for position during the May-June crab-catching season.

The earlier talks included two-star generals and were the first high-level military contacts between the two sides in a year.

The Korean War ended in a 1953 cease-fire that has never been replaced with a peace treaty — leaving the two Koreas technically at war.