Korean defense ministers to seek border solution

MOSCOW, November 27 (RIA Novosti) - South and North Korean defense ministers are due to start a meeting on Tuesday to try and reduce tensions on the border between the two countries.

During the talks, which will be held in Pyongyang November 27-29, Kim Jang-soo and his Northern counterpart Kim Il-chol will focus on the Northern Limit Line (NLL), separating South and North Korean waters in the Yellow Sea.

The maritime demarcation line was drawn up by the United Nations after the 1950-53 Korean War, but has never been recognized by the Communist North, which is calling for it to be moved further south.

At the historic second summit of the Korean leaders held in October both sides agreed to establish a joint fishing area and border peace zone in the region, and set the meeting between the countries' defense ministers for November.

The border dispute has caused a number of clashes in the area. The latest occurred in the summer of 2002, when six South Korean naval officers were killed and 18 injured, and in 1999, the South Korean Navy sank a North Korean vessel killing some 30 sailors.

The ministers are also expected to discuss ways to ensure safe navigation between their ports in the Yellow Sea, as well as transporting freight via a cross-border rail link, due to start in December, to a jointly run industrial zone in the northern border town of Kaesong.

The countries are still technically at war. The signing of any formal peace treaty between the two countries would require the participation of the United States and China, which were also involved in the 1950-53 conflict. The U.S. has so far been reluctant to discuss the issue until the Communist North fully discontinues its nuclear program.

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