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SEOUL, August 24. /TASS/. The second round of talks between representatives of Seoul and Pyongyang in Panmunjom have been underway for almost 24 hours. There are still no details about the negotiations process.
The talks are held in the "2+2" format. From South Korea, Kim Kwan-jin, national security adviser to the president, and Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo take part in the negotiations. The North is represented by Hwang Pyong So, a political director of the country's army, and Kim Yang Gon, a veteran of negotiations with South Korea.
A spokesperson for South Korean presidential administration Min Gyeong-uk said today that "negotiations continue." He did not provide any details, noting that media reports can negatively influence the negotiations process.
An informed governmental source in Seoul told TASS that the second round of talks may last for 24 hours or more. Though dialogue was launched many hours ago, it does not mean that the sides are in constant contact with each other.
"Delegates spend most of their time coordinating positions with their leaders on the phone," the source said. "Apart from that, the Peace House that hosts the talks, is equipped with everything necessary for lengthy stay of guests. There is a shower, cafeteria and several bedrooms. If necessary, negotiators can stay in the building for days," the source said.
The first round, which began on Saturday afternoon, lasted for over ten hours. "During the meeting, the parties voiced their positions and exchanged a wide spectrum of opinions on ways to settle the current crisis, as well as on future relations between the countries," a representative of the Republic of Korea’s presidential administration said after the negotiations’ round was over.
Experts do not believe the parties will manage to offer a compromise, as the issues are of major principles for each of them. Here, the North, most probably, insists on pulling down the South Korean loudspeakers, which Seoul has been using for propaganda broadcasts to the DPRK military units located along the border. Pyongyang has reiterated that step is taken as announcement of war, and, besides, the DPRK has been using it for development of the anti-Seoul moods in the nation.
For South Korea, however, pulling down the loudspeakers is unacceptable — the broadcast began as a revenge for the accidents, where two sergeants got injured on South Korean mines. Whichever country gives in — it would mean major political consequences, which neither the DPRK nor the Republic of Korea may afford.
The situation on the Korean peninsula dramatically deteriorated on Thursday after North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire in the western part of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Seoul claimed that North Korea was the first to open fire and the artillery shelling was aimed at South Korea’s propaganda loudspeakers installed nearby. Pyongyang rejected the allegations.
On the same day, North Korea forwarded an ultimatum to South Korea to stop broadcasting anti-North Korean propaganda through loudspeakers, to dismantle the equipment within next 48 hours and threatened military action otherwise. Seoul declared it would not meet Pyongyang’s demands.
The meeting at the Demilitarized Zone village began soon after the deadline for North Korea's ultimatum expired.