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SKorea picks date for defense talks w/ NKorea

January 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
South Korea has chosen next month for preliminary meetings with North Korea to lay the foundation for high-level defense talks.The proposed Feb. 11 meeting would be the first official inter-Korean talks since the north's deadly artillery attack on an island near their disputed sea border in November.

This comes just days after North Korea called for high-level defense talks and as a senior U.S. diplomat visits with South Korean officials.

The hostilities between the Koreas have further put off hopes of a new round of international negotiations on ending North Korea's nuclear programs.

Talks between the rivals would be a good step in that direction, though Seoul, Washington and Tokyo have insisted that the North prove it is serious about giving up its atomic ambitions before they will allow a new round of aid-for-disarmament negotiations.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg held talks with Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan on Wednesday.

Steinberg called on the North to demonstrate that it's sincerely prepared to reject violence and to engage in meaningful dialogue on its nuclear programs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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