Rival Koreas meet for talks as tensions ease

Tuesday’s preliminary military talks clear one of the roadblocks to a possible resumption of six-way talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear-weapons programme, last held more than two years ago when the North walked out.

But analysts remained sceptical about Pyongyang’s motives to restart nuclear talks, saying it has reneged on past promises and instead used the funds from donor countries to develop its nuclear programme.

After divvying out billions of dollars to its destitute neighbour over the past two decades, Seoul now insists it will only send aid once the North totally dismantles its atomic programme.

“When they (North Korea) need something, which usually means money, they first drive tensions high, then switch to the charm offensive and start talks in order to get something,” said Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Kookmin University in Seoul.

“If they do not get what they need, they turn the switch back to the confrontational mood.”

Under pressure from the United States and China, host of the six-party talks, the neighbours have toned down their combative rhetoric over the past month and agreed to bilateral talks.

North Korean Colonel Ri Son-kwon patted his counterpart from the South, Col. Moon Sang-gyun, on the shoulder and they shook hands before they started negotiations at the Panmunjom truce village. The pair have met several times over the years.Reuters