South Korea turns off propaganda loudspeakers amid border climbdown (dpa German Press Agency)

Seoul (dpa) – South Korean loudspeakers broadcasting propaganda over
the border to the North were switched off Tuesday, a Defence Ministry
official said, as part of a deal to defuse recently escalating

The agreement was reached early Tuesday after three days of
high-level talks, South Korean security advisor Kim Kwan Jin said
from Seoul.

It included an undertaking by North Korea to lift its “quasi-state of
war,” and Pyongyang’s expression of “regret” over a landmine
explosion that blew the legs off two South Korean troops on patrol in
the demilitarized zone between the countries this month.

Seoul’s President Park Geun Hye hoped the deal was a sign of a
long-term improvement in relations, but stressed the importance of
implementing it, a spokesman said.

South Korea said Tuesday it would wait until North Korea had
“normalized” its military deployment before lifting its own state of
military readiness, the South’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

As of Monday, the North had doubled its artillery at the border, sent
50 of its 70 submarines out of their bases, and mobilized 20
hovercraft around the western maritime border, Yonhap reported.

During the negotiations, held at the village of Panmunjom, the South
had focused on the landmine incident, while North Korean delegates
had pushed the “future inter-Korean relations,” Yonhap quoted an
unnamed Unification Ministry official as saying.

The deal might pave the way to expand economic cooperation, analysts
were quoted as saying by the South’s Yonhap News Agency.

All joint projects have been on hold since 2010, except a jointly run
industrial park at Kaesong, close to the border in North Korea.

North Korean negotiators raised the issue of resuming tours to a
resort at Mount Kumgang on its south-eastern coast, Yonhap said,
citing unnamed government insiders.

The resort was a strong earner of hard currency, with 2 million South
Korean visitors in total until July 2008, when all tours were
suspended after a tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier,
according to some reports after wandering out of the designated area.

The deal Tuesday morning was welcomed by the UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon and US State Department spokesman John Kirby.

“This was obviously a compromise,” Kirby said. “That’s not
insignificant. We hope that will continue to decrease tensions. We
will have to see how it plays out.”

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