North, South Korea Reach Agreement to Ease Tensions

SEOUL (Reuters) -

North and South Korea reached agreement early on Tuesday to end a standoff involving an exchange of artillery fire that had pushed the divided peninsula into a state of heightened military tension.

Under the accord reached after midnight on Tuesday morning following more than two days of talks, North Korea expressed regret over the recent wounding of South Korean soldiers in a landmine incident and Seoul agreed to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts, both sides said.

North Korea also agreed to end the “semi” state of war it had declared. The two sides will hold follow-up talks to discuss a range of issues on improving ties, the joint statement said.

Pyongyang has previously denied laying the landmines, and in the statement did not explicitly take responsibility for them.

The marathon talks at the Panmunjom truce village inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas began on Saturday, shortly after Pyongyang’s deadline for the South to halt its propaganda broadcasts or face military action.

Seoul and Pyongyang have remained technically in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean war ended in a truce, rather than a peace treaty, and hopes for improved relations have repeatedly been dashed over the years.