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(LEAD) N. Korea committed to improving ties with South: N.K. official

All Headlines 18:02 August 27, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in last 9 paras; CORRECTS attribution in 3rd para)

SEOUL, Aug. 27 (Yonhap) -- A senior North Korean official said Thursday his country will work "actively" to improve relations with South Korea based on the spirit of a recent landmark agreement between the two sides.

Kim Yang-gon, Pyongyang's top official handling inter-Korean ties, also called on the two sides to move in a constructive direction toward the reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

"Based on the spirit of the urgent high-level contact between the North and South, we will work actively to improve North-South relations, in line with the aim and wish of our people," he said in an interview with the North's Korean Central News Agency.

Kim took part in the 2+2 high-level talks from Saturday through Tuesday, which led to a breakthrough agreement in which the North expressed regret over a land mine attack that maimed two South Korean soldiers. In return, the South halted anti-Pyongyang loudspeaker broadcasts along their border.

The talks took place in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas as tensions flared up following the Aug. 4 land mine explosion that prompted the loudspeaker broadcasts and an exchange of artillery fire across the border.

Two days before the talks, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered his troops to be on a war footing and declared a "semi-state of war."

Kim Yang-gon expressed relief that the tensions were defused through the talks, saying he is "pleased" that the two sides were able to create a turning point for better inter-Korean ties.

However, he stressed the importance of maintaining the current mood to move inter-Korean ties toward reunification.

"We must work to ensure that the North and the South do not get entangled in mysterious incidents as we did this time and worsen the political situation and drive it to the extreme," he said. "As we mark the 70th year of our nation's independence this year, our view to creating a great change, a great revolution in North-South ties and opening a grand path to autonomous reunification is consistent."

Kim's remarks contrast with those of Hwang Pyong-so, the chief North Korean delegate to the talks, who told domestic audiences via state television Tuesday that he believes the talks taught the South a lesson not to create "groundless cases" and "provoke the other side."

Hwang, the chief military official for political affairs, was apparently referring to the land mine attack the South blamed on the North.

The six-point deal included an agreement for further talks between the two sides, a resumption of temporary reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, the lifting of North Korea's "semi-state of war," and increased civilian exchanges.


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