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SEOUL, August 24. /TASS/. Negotiations between Seoul and Pyongyang underway in Panmunjom are aimed at preventing future provocation, South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Byung-se said on Monday.
"During talks at the high level, we are trying to understand the situation in order to prevent such provocations in the future," Yonhap news agency quoted the foreign minister as saying. The minister meant the incident when two South Korean sergeants stepped on mines and were left handicapped. "We assess these actions very seriously," Yoon Byung-se said.
The second round of talks between representatives of Seoul and Pyongyang has been underway for almost 24 hours. 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.
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.