Military officers from North Korea and the U.S.-led U.N. Command met today for a third round of talks about the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on Pyongyang.
U.N. Command spokesman Kim Yong-kyu said colonel-level officers from the two sides were holding talks at the border village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas. He gave no further details about the discussions.
An international team of investigators concluded in May that a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo that sank the Cheonan two months earlier, killing 46 South Korean sailors.
The U.N. Command - which oversees an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War - proposed last week that a joint task force be formed to discuss the “armistice violations”.
North Korea vehemently denies involvement in the sinking of the 1,200-ton Cheonan, and wants to send its own investigators to South Korea to examine the results. Seoul has rejected the North’s repeated requests.
Today’s meeting came two days after the U.S. and South Korea wrapped up naval drills meant to warn the North that further provocations will not be tolerated.
The North threatened to respond to the joint military exercises with powerful nuclear deterrence, though there was no sign of unusual North Korean military activity during the drills. The allies also plan to hold another military drill next month.
Pyongyang routinely accuses the U.S. and South Korea of staging the military drills as a rehearsal for an attack on North Korea. Washington and Seoul say the exercises are purely defensive and that they have no intention of invading the North.