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N. Korea Demands New Maritime Border with South - 2002-08-06

A North Korean military delegation, meeting with the American-led United Nations Command, has demanded the establishment of a new maritime border with South Korea. Representatives of the North and the United Nations held talks Tuesday to calm tensions following a deadly naval battle in June.

A statement from the United Nations Command calls Tuesday's meeting positive and describes a tone of cooperation and common interest in reducing tensions.

Officials from the U.S.-led command and North Korea's Korean People's Army met at Panmunjom on the border between North and South Korea.

But according to South Korean reports about the meeting, North Korea demanded a new maritime border. Delegates from the North restated Pyongyang's view that the border in the Yellow Sea was illegally drawn by the United States after the Korean War ended without a peace treaty in 1953.

North Korean vessels have crossed the line many times. But on June 29, at least four South Korean sailors were killed along with an unknown number of North Koreans when vessels from both nations fought a gun battle.

South Korea says the North Korean navy started the battle by crossing the border, but North Korea claims South Korean boats opened fire first. However, Pyongyang has expressed regret over the incident.

The goal of Tuesday's gathering was to help prevent further clashes.

It follows a flurry of diplomatic overtures by Pyongyang. The North and South will reopen stalled ministerial talks next week on a series of issues, among them are reunions of divided families and reconnecting a cross-border railway.

In addition, North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun met U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi during a regional security forum in Brunei last week. North Korea said afterward it had agreed to restart talks with Tokyo and Washington, South Korea's key allies.