North and South Korea have struck a deal following talks aimed at ending tensions, according to the Yonhap news agency. The agreement reportedly includes the North expressing “regret” over land mine attacks that wounded two soldiers from the South. Yonhap, based in the South, said that in exchange the South would stop broadcasting propaganda over the border at noon (local time) on Tuesday.
Seoul has set up 11 sites where loudspeakers boom out anti-Pyongyang messages, news broadcasts and K-pop hits such as Gangnam Style across the border. The South had refused to stop unless the North apologised for the land mine attacks – but North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un continually denied involvement. Further details are expected to be announced by South Korean delegates shortly.
Any agreement would illustrate a softened stance from both sides – and end the prospect of war on the Korean peninsula. South Korea had made a series of claims that its neighbour was preparing for war by doubling the strength of its frontline artillery forces and dispatching 50 of its 70 submarines from their bases.North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un admitted he was prepared to risk “all-out war” unless Seoul halted its propaganda broadcasts.
The decision to hold talks came just hours before a Saturday deadline set by Mr Kim for the South to dismantle its loudspeakers. North Korean state media reported that more than one million young people have volunteered to join or rejoin the military to defend their country should war break out. The United Nations, the United States and the North’s lone major ally, China, have all called for calm.
The US, which has 28,500 soldiers based in South Korea, is conducting annual joint military exercises with the South. North Korea regularly condemns the manoeuvres as a preparation for war.