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S. Korea to propose date for defense talks with N. Korea next week

All Headlines 11:01 January 21, 2011

SEOUL, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense ministry said Friday it will propose a date for a preparatory session with North Korea next week to arrange high-level talks on the North's cross-border military provocations.

The inter-Korean defense talks, if held, will be the first since North Korea's unprovoked artillery attack on a South Korean island in November, killing two marines and two civilians. Last such talks were held in September last year.

"We will propose the date for working-level defense talks next week to North Korea," said Kim Min-seok, a ministry spokesman.

"The talks are likely to be held in February if the two sides agree on the agenda and other issues," Kim said, adding colonels from the two sides will likely hold the preparatory talks.

In its latest dialogue offensive, North Korea's defense chief Kim Yong-chun on Thursday proposed the talks to South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, citing a need to "resolve pending military issues." The North's official media, Korean Central News Agency, said Friday that Pyongyang wants to make known its position on the island shelling and the March sinking of a South Korean warship and discuss reducing military tensions on the peninsula.

Hours after Thursday's proposal, South Korea said it will accept the offer.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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