Stephen Haggard takes a forensic look at agreement between Seoul and Pyongyang and considers what it might mean for diplomacy on the peninsula.
Stephan Haggard is a professor of Korea-Pacific studies at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego.
Another whirl in the now familiar dance between the two Koreas has ended with Pyongyang expressing regrets over the wounding of South Korean soldiers, Seoul agreeing to halt anti-North propaganda broadcasts, and heavy sighs of relief around the world as war talk dies down.
We may have been here many times before, but it’s worth looking more closely at the details of the deal between the two enemies. The full text of the early-morning agreement as released by the North Korean state mouthpiece KCNA is as follows:
The North and the South agreed to hold talks between their authorities in Pyongyang or Seoul at an early date to improve north-south ties and to have multi-faceted dialogue and negotiations in the future.
The North side expressed regret over the recent mine explosion that occurred in the South side’s area of the Demilitarised Zone along the Military Demarcation Line, wounding soldiers of the southern side.
The South side will stop all loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the DMZ from 12pm, 25 August unless an abnormal case occurs.
The North side will lift the semi-war state at that time.
The North and the South agreed to arrange reunions of separated families and relatives from the North and the South on the occasion of the Harvest Moon Day this year and continue to hold such reunions in the future, and to have a Red Cross working contact for it early in September.
The North and the South agreed to vitalise NGO exchanges in various fields.
The circumstances surrounding the talks make it hard to see this as anything but a North Korean stand-down. After setting a 48-hour ultimatum for the South to stop its propaganda broadcasts on Thursday, it was Pyongyang that reached out several hours before the deadline to propose talks (according to Yonhap) after the South made it clear it had no intention of stopping the broadcasts.The text released by Pyongyang comes about as close to an apology as we are likely to see. As John Everard, former British Ambassador to the North, pointed out, Pyongyang hasn’t issued a statement like this since the 1976 Panmunjom axe murders, when North Korean troops killed two US soldiers.
To read the entire article by Stephan Haggard on 26 August 2015 in The Guardian World News click on the link below.