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UPDATED: 12:41, June 12, 2004
Seoul, Pyongyang agree to set up hotline linking navies
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South Korea and Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) military officers agreed Saturday morning to establish a hotline in August to avoid accidental armed clashes at their disputed inter-Korean sea border.

Colonel-grade officers of the two countries reached the agreement in a prolonged three-day talks ended at the DPRK border city of Kaesong earlier Saturday, South Korean Yonhap News Agency quoted an official at the South Korean Defense Ministry as reporting.

The working level military talks was originally scheduled to be concluded on Thursday afternoon after it started Thursday morning.

The sides agreed to set up a hotline on Aug. 12 to improve communications between their navies, said Yonhap.

They also agreed to exchange information of illicit finishing boats every day and to use a unified system of flag and flash signals from June 15.

The working-level officers also reaffirmed an earlier agreement that the sides will start dismantling propaganda signboards on June 15 and stop loud broadcasts by Aug. 15 along their 248-kilometer long land border, said Yonhap.

Seoul and Pyongyang held the talks to follow up on agreements reached in the inter-Korean general grade military talks last week to take steps to ease tension on their land and sea borders.

At the senior level military talks, the two countries agreed to stop propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts along their land border and take a series of measures to avoid armed clashes along the controversial sea border in the Yellow Sea.

The working level military meeting was prolonged for two days as the two sides had differences over which measures should be taken first.

The controversial inter-Korean sea border, the Northern Limit Line (NLL), has been a constant source of conflict between the navies of the two countries. Previous naval gun battles there in 1999 and 2002 resulted in heavy casualties on both sides.

Source: Xinhua

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