High-level talks continued on Sunday to defuse tensions between North and South Korea.
The talks are being held in the neutral town of Panmunjon, near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two countries.
Tensions arose this week after South Korea setup loudspeakers along the border to broadcast what the North calls propaganda across the DMZ.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un issued a threat of military action against the south if the loudspeakers were not immediately removed and put his country on a war footing.
“If South Korea does not respond to our ultimatum,” North Korean U.N. ambassador An Myong Hun told reporters, “our military counteraction will be inevitable and that counteraction will be very strong.”
The tensions culminated in an exchange of artillery fire on Thursday.
South Korea, for its part, resumed the propaganda broadcasts for the first time in 11-years after two of their soldiers were wounded earlier this month by a North Korean landmine near the DMZ.
Experts do not hold out much hope for the talks to produce any meaningful agreement, but also feel that North Korea will not risk an actual conflict.
“They really don’t want to have a war because they know they’re going to lose,” said Robert Kelly, an associate professor of political science and diplomacy at Pusan National University in South Korea. “They have to gin up some kind of a crisis every few years or so to justify their regime. If there’s no tension with South Korea, if there’s no ‘hostile policies of the Americans,’ then there’s no reason for that regime to exist.”
Coincidentally, about 80,000 U.S. and South Korean troops are engaged in an annual training exercise along the border area this week.
[USA Today] [Reuters] [CNN] [ABC News] [Photo courtesy BBC]