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(2nd LD) Park urges N. Korea to apologize for provocations

All Headlines 11:37 August 24, 2015

(ATTN: RECASTS throughout with comments by Park; CHANGES headline)

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye called on North Korea Monday to apologize for recent provocations amid ongoing high-level talks between the two sides on defusing heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Tensions between the Koreas have risen dramatically in recent weeks after South Korea accused North Korea of being behind a land mine attack that maimed two South Korean soldiers.

The North also fired artillery shells across the border Thursday, prompting South Korea to fire back dozens of shells.

The North has denied its responsibility in both cases.

South Korea will "take corresponding measures and continue the loudspeaker broadcasts" unless North Korea offers a clear apology and promises not to stage any provocations, Park said in a regular meeting with her top aides.

South Korea resumed the propaganda broadcasts along the heavily fortified border earlier this month for the first time in 11 years in retaliation against North Korea for the land mine attack.

A key sticking point in the high-level talks appears to be South Korea's psychological warfare tactic.

North Korea views the broadcasts critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as an insult to its dignity. The isolated country is also concerned that an influx of outside information could pose a threat to Kim.

On Thursday, North Korea gave a 48-hour ultimatum to South Korea to end the broadcasts and dismantle all loudspeakers, saying it otherwise will launch "strong military action." The Pyongyang-set deadline for defusing the crisis passed without a military clash.

Park also warned of a strong retaliation against North Korea, if provoked again. But she also offered a conciliatory gesture toward North Korea, saying South Korea will make its utmost efforts for mutual prosperity and peace if the two sides defuse tensions through dialogue.

On Monday, the high-level talks between South and North Korea stretched into their third day amid no clear signs of progress in defusing the heightened tensions.

The talks involve four top security officials: South Korea's National Security Adviser Kim Kwan-jin; Hong Yong-pyo, Seoul's point man on Pyongyang; Hwang Pyong-so, the North Korean military's top political officer; and Kim Yang-gon, the top North Korean official in charge of inter-Korean affairs.

The top security officials resumed the talks around 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the border village of Panmunjom, 11 hours after they paused the session to review each other's position. They began the talks on Saturday evening.
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