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ROK, DPRK agreement reduces tensions

By Mo Jingxi (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-08-26 07:44

China welcomed a deal struck between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Tuesday that defused heightened tensions.

China hopes that the sides will continue the talks and promote reconciliation and cooperation, push forward the implementation of the agreement and maintain peace and stability on the peninsula, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement on Tuesday.

Pyongyang expressed its regret over recent injuries sustained by ROK soldiers from a land mine blast and decided to lift the "quasi-state of war" it declared last week, according to a news briefing on Tuesday.

The ROK and DPRK have been at odds recently as they accused each other of carrying out provocations.

Seoul also agreed to stop its loudspeaker campaign across the border at noon on Tuesday unless an "abnormal" event occurs.

Earlier this month, the ROK restarted propaganda broadcasts, for the first time in 11 years, in retaliation for the land mine explosion that maimed two soldiers. Tensions escalated last week after an exchange of artillery on the border.

After 40-plus hours of talks, which were halted and resumed several times, Seoul and Pyongyang also agreed to resume the reunions, during Mid-Autumn Festival, of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

They also agreed to hold intergovernmental talks soon in either Seoul or Pyongyang, to improve inter-Korean relations.

According to Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency, President Park Geun-hye said the two sides should follow through on their breakthrough deals to ease tensions and improve strained relations.

"I hope that the deal could serve as an occasion to resolve all inter-Korean issues through trust," Park said in a message read by her spokesman, Min Kyung-wook.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a news briefing that the United States welcomes the agreement.

"We support President Park's tireless efforts to improve inter-Korean relations, which support peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," Kirby said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the deal. "In particular, I highly appreciate the agreement to hold regular inter-Korean dialogue, and hope that this will serve as a mechanism to effectively manage any problems that may arise on the Korean Peninsula," Ban said in a statement.

Wang Junsheng, a researcher on East Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the deal is the result of combined efforts by both sides to control the current crisis.

"It helped to bring the rapidly escalated tensions to a quick end by avoiding the possibility of war, which is not wanted by either side," he said.

The deal also signals that Pyongyang hopes to improve its relations with Seoul, said Wang.

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