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Report: Koreas begin military talks

By the CNN Wire
A North Korean soldier takes picture of the southern side of the cross-border village of Panmunjeom on July 27.
A North Korean soldier takes picture of the southern side of the cross-border village of Panmunjeom on July 27.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • N. Korea wants border, known as Northern Limit Line, redrawn farther south
  • The discussions began Thursday morning on the Korean border
  • S. Korean officials were skeptical of the North's proposal to talk
  • The North tends to behave provocatively, then try to win concessions, the South says
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(CNN) -- South Korea and North Korea on Thursday morning began military talks for the first time in nearly two years, the Yonhap news agency reported.

At the start of the working-level military talks, the North Korean lead negotiator called for a "humanitarian view" in dealing with issues proposed by the two Koreas, Yonhap said, referring to a pooled newsgathering report.

"All issues should be resolved from the point of a humanitarian view at today's talks," North lead negotiator Col. Ri Shin-kwon was quoted as saying in the pooled report.

The South Korean lead negotiator sounded a cautious note.

"We will watch how your side deals with those issues," said Col. Moon Sang-kyun, according to the pooled report.

The talks were being held at the truce village of Panmunjom on the Korean border.

Why are the two Koreas so hostile?

Pyongyang asked to discuss the two countries' de facto sea border on the west coast. North Korea wants the border, known as the Northern Limit Line, redrawn farther south.

Deadly naval clashes between North and South took place along the Northern Limit Line in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

North Korea also wanted to discuss a South Korean plan to fly anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North, in response to the sinking of a South Korean warship in March. South Korea has since deferred the leaflet plan.

The communist North's proposal was met with skepticism. Military officials in South Korea say the North tends to act provocatively, then follow with proposals to talk and try to win concessions, Yonhap said.

Seoul blames the North in the sinking of the warship Cheonan in March, which killed 46 sailors. North Korea has denied sinking the ship.

The two Koreas are technically still at war, because the 1950-53 Korean War ended without a peace treaty. North-South relations remain tense.

In recent weeks, Pyongyang also has proposed temporarily reuniting Korean families separated by war.

The Korean War divided millions of families. About 10,000 people applied to take part in a similar reunion last year, but fewer than 200 families were allowed to participate.

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