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U.N. Command offers talks with N. Korea over shelling: source

All Headlines 20:43 August 21, 2015

SEOUL, Aug. 21 (Yonhap) -- The United Nations Command (UNC) has proposed having working-level talks with North Korea to discuss escalating tension on the divided Korean Peninsula, sparked by the North's recent firing of artillery shells across the border, a military source said Friday.

The UNC sent a message to North Korea on Thursday, offering to hold dialogue with Pyongyang following the North's firing of several shells across the heavily fortified inter-Korean border, according to the source.

"The UNC has called for North Korea to refrain from worsening the situation on the peninsula as the North's firing of artillery shells is a serious violation of the armistice agreement," the source said. "It has proposed to have a working-level dialogue to prepare for general-level talks."

The North has not yet responded to the UNC's proposal, it added.

Tension has heightened on the Korean Peninsula as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered front-line troops to have full combat readiness against South Korea.

He declared a "quasi-state of war," warning that the North will take military action if the South does not end border propaganda broadcasts and dismantle the broadcast facilities by around 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Seoul resumed its loudspeaker campaign with anti-Pyongyang propaganda on Aug. 10 in retaliation for the North's land mine explosion on Aug. 4 in the 4-kilometer-wide demilitarized zone that bisects the two Koreas.

Earlier, the UNC proposed general-level talks with North Korea to discuss the mine blasts that seriously injured two South Korean soldiers, an offer rejected by the North.

The two Koreas remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.


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