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Koreas Hold First High-Level Military Talks of 2008


Talks between North and South Korean military officials were held Thursday along the border separating the two rivals, marking the first such contact between Pyongyang and Seoul in more than eight months.

The officials met for 90 minutes at the truce village of Panmunjom.

South Korea's military envoy, Lee Sang-chul, says the South had high expectations for the talks, but they ended with no significant agreements.

Pak Rim Su, North Korea's chief delegate to the talks, tells Yonhap his side called the meeting to raise the issue of South Korea's "spreading of propaganda leaflets" throughout the North. He says the North-South relationship is in a very serious situation.

Pak says the South Koreans were not ready to solve problems.

Pyongyang proposed the talks last week, asking for them to be held on Tuesday. Seoul agreed, but won a concession for the meeting to be held Thursday.

Relations between North and South Korea have been tense since conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in February. Mr. Lee had promised to take a tougher stance with the North.

The shooting death of a South Korean tourist by North Korean soldiers at a mountain resort in July further aggravated tensions.

In a separate development, South Korea's Dong-a Ilbo newspaper says intelligence sources have learned that Pyongyang is preparing to test a new long-range missile.

The newspaper says the North has renovated its launch facilities at its Musudan-ri launch pad on its eastern coast. A 2006 test-fire of the North's Taepodong 2 missile failed shortly after launch.

A state of war has technically existed between the North and South Korea since their three-year war ended with a truce, and a not a peace deal, in 1953.

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