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North, South Korea Hold Talks, Amid Talk of War

Korea Korea

North and South Korea have begun emergency high-level talks in an attempt to end a tense standoff that had possibly brought the two rivals to the brink of war.

The talks got under way Saturday at the border village of Panmunjom, according to the Yonhap news agency, which quoted officials from Seoul’s Unification Ministry.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s National Security Advisor Kim Kwan-jin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s aide Hwang Pyong So are taking part in the meeting, which was set to begin at 6:00 p.m. local time.

No details were immediately released about the urgent meeting, which came at the request of Pyongyang. North Korea had threatened to engage Seoul in “all-out war.”

The North had given the South until 5:00 p.m. Pyongyang time Saturday (0830 UTC, 4:30 a.m. EDT) to stop anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts near the border. Seoul refused to do so, and the deadline passed without any apparent incident.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un placed his military forces on high alert Friday and declared front-line areas to be in a “quasi-state of war.” The two countries have technically been at war since their 1950s conflict, which never officially ended in a peace treaty.

Seoul has said it will respond harshly to any North Korean provocations. “We are closely monitoring the situation,” presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook said Saturday.

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