01:00 GMT14 August 2020
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    TOKYO (Sputnik) - North and South Korea held negotiations on Monday, which marks the 68th anniversary of the Korean War of 1950-1953, to restore military communication channels between the two countries.

    The war ended with the sides signing an armistice agreement, but no peace treaty has ever been signed.

    Restoration of Military Contacts

    Monday’s colonel-level talks, held at a border checkpoint in Paju, were the first military meeting in seven years. The South Korean delegation was led by Army Col. Cho Yong-geun, while Col. Om Chang Nam headed the North Korean delegation.

    READ MORE: North Korea Sends Soldiers' Remains Home, Calls on US to Honor Agreements

    The talks focused on the restoration of military telephone and fax lines in the east and the west of the buffer zone separating the two Koreas to avoid incidents that could potentially result in escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

    The eastern communication line was established in 2003 and blocked in 2011 due to rising tensions. The line was completely cut off in 2013 after a forest fire.

    Cancellation of Military Drills

    According to reports from Seoul, South Korea is planning to halt its annual exercise in the disputed area of the Yellow Sea.

    In November 2010, North Korean artillery hit the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing two South Korean servicemen and injuring 17 others. The incident is believed to have been sparked by South Korea’s military drills in the area.

    Last week, following US President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, South Korea and the United States announced the suspension of their annual military drills — the Ulchi Freedom Guardian. In addition, Seoul later halted its Taegeuk exercise.

    Revival of Economic Projects

    South Korea will also start a series of talks with its neighbor this week on bilateral economic projects in the forestry and railway industries in a follow-up to the summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April, South Korea's Unification Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

    "Through the meetings on rail, road and forestry cooperation, we will lay the foundation for the development of a long-term relationship between the South and the North, for the sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula by faithfully discussing ways to implement the Panmunjom Declaration," the statement read.

    According to the ministry, the negotiating teams from both sides will be headed by deputy ministers for transport and environmental protection.

    Red Cross Talks

    Seoul has begun selecting candidates to take part in the reunion of families which were separated during the Korean War. The reunion is expected to be held in August, with some 100 family members attending from each side, according to media reports.

    READ MORE: Pentagon 'Indefinitely Suspends' Troop Exchange Program with South Korea

    The agreement to hold the reunion was reached at Red Cross Talks on humanitarian issues on June 22.

    Korea was split in two after World War II in 1945, ending the 35-year colonial rule of Japan. After the Korean War, over 60,000 families were separated.

    The latest family reunion took place in October 2015.

    Closer Sports Cooperation

    On Monday, following an agreement reached between representatives of the two Koreas on June 18, South Korea’s Sports Ministry said that four basketball games between the two nations would be held in Pyongyang on July 4-5.

    A South Korean delegation of 100 people will travel to the North Korean capital. According to the Yonhap news agency, this will be the first basketball game between the two sides in 15 years.

    In February, North Korean athletes participated in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The two Koreas marched under a single flag.

    68th Anniversary of Korean War

    North Korea invaded the South on June 25, 1950, following a series of clashes along the border. That same year, the United Nations, with the United States as the leading force, joined the war to support South Korea, while the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (CPV) entered the war on the side of North Korea.

    The armistice was signed in 1953 between military commanders from China and North Korea on one side, and US-led UN command on behalf of the international community. South Korea was not a signatory to the armistice.

    The historic Kim-Moon summit on April 27 marked a new stage in inter-Korean relations. The two leaders signed a joint declaration, agreeing to take measures to support international efforts aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and proceeding with reunion programs for separated Korean families.


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