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South Korea accepts North's apology

  • Story Highlights
  • South Korea, North Korea officials meet on ways to prevent floods on shared river
  • Last month a flash flood killed six in the South after N. Korea released dam waters
  • South Korea: North says they had no choice but to release water
  • North Korea tests five short-range missiles from east coast this week
From Sohn Jie-Ae
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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- North Korea's apology for a flooding incident that killed six people in the South shows a "willingness on the part of North Korea to improve relations," a South Korean presidential spokesman said.

The South decided to accept the North's apology, said Park Sun-Kyu, the presidential spokesman, on Wednesday after officials from the two Koreas met to discuss ways to prevent floods on a river that flows between them.

The deadly flash flood occurred last month in South Korea after North Korea released dam waters without prior warning.

That North Korea promptly accepted the South's call for talks on what happened was also a positive sign for inter-Korean relations, South Korea's presidential spokesman added.

At the meeting the North Korean delegate expressed regret for the deaths and condolences to the families of the victims, said the South's unification ministry spokesman.

The North delegation said it had no choice but to release the water to prevent an even greater incident, the spokesman said. The spokesman said the North did not elaborate.

Some South Korean assemblymen had accused the North of releasing the waters on purpose.

Earlier this week, North Korea tested five short-range missiles from its east coast into the waters between Korea and Japan.

While some analysts say this could be North Korea's attempt to raise tensions on the Korean peninsula ahead of possible talks with the United States, others considered this a normal part of North Korea's military exercises.

Last month, North Korea hosted brief reunions between Korean families divided by the war, which some analysts took as a sign that relations were improving.

Inter-Korean relations had deteriorated since the inauguration of South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak, who advocates more a hard-line stance towards the North.

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