SEOUL, South Korea – Senior military officers from the rival Koreas met at a border village Wednesday for talks on how to ease their animosities following two shooting incidents last week, South Korean media reported.
The two Koreas traded gunfire Friday after South Korean activists floated anti-Pyongyang propaganda balloons across the border. Earlier in the week, their navies exchanged warning shots along the disputed sea boundary. There were no reports of casualties from either incident, which served as a reminder of tensions running high on the divided peninsula.
Hopes for better relations were given impetus after a group of high-level North Korean officials made a rare visit to South Korea earlier this month and agreed to resume senior-level talks. However, the meeting Wednesday at the border village of Panmunjom between generals from across the border was unrelated.
After Friday's gunfire exchange, South Korea said it would sternly deal with any further provocation by North Korea, but stressed the door for dialogue remains open. North Korea urged South Korea to stop hostile acts such as dropping leaflets if it wants improved ties.
Wednesday's meeting of generals represents their first military talks since early 2011, Yonhap news agency reported citing unidentified government and ruling party sources.
Yonhap said the talks were expected to focus on how to ease tensions along the sea boundary, the scene of several bloody inter-Korean naval skirmishes in recent years, as well as discuss balloons carrying leaflets.
North Korea has long demanded South Korea prohibit activists from launching leaflets, but South Korea has refused citing freedom of speech.
Senior opposition lawmaker Park Jie-won told a party meeting that the talks were to start at 10 a.m., according to a statement posted on his website.
Seoul's Defense Ministry and Unification Ministry said it couldn't confirm the report.
Yonhap said North Korea had requested South Korea not to publicize the meeting.