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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Disputed Fishing Zone talk between the two Koreas

By KWANG-TAE KIM – 1 day ago

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The two Koreas will hold high-level military talks this week to discuss a joint fishing zone and other projects aimed at improving ties between the rivals, the South's Defense Ministry said Monday.

The militaries of North Korea and South Korea are scheduled to sign security arrangements for cross-border projects and consult on the fishing area around their disputed maritime border off the peninsula's west coast, the ministry said in a statement.

Two-star generals will represent each side in three days of meetings starting Wednesday at the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas.

This week's talks come two weeks after the defense ministers of the two Koreas held their first meeting in seven years in Pyongyang.

The defense chiefs agreed on security arrangements for the first-ever regular train service across their heavily fortified border, which was set to start Tuesday.

But the two ministers failed to reach a consensus on the joint fishing zone, which was a key issue at their talks.

The proposed fishing zone, in an area where the two Koreas fought bloody naval skirmishes in 1999 and 2002, was part of an accord signed in October by South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

South Korea has proposed that the zone extend on both sides of the border, but North Korea has argued that it should only be to the south.

It remains unclear whether the two sides can produce any breakthrough in the issue in the upcoming talks, since they have long been at odds over the disputed maritime border.

North Korea does not recognize the current sea boundary, which was drawn unilaterally at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War by the then-commander of U.N. forces, and has long demanded it be redrawn farther south.
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