Facebook Twitter

2 KOREAS SIGN AGREEMENT CALLING FOR TALKS IN BID TO END HOSTILITIES

SHARE 2 KOREAS SIGN AGREEMENT CALLING FOR TALKS IN BID TO END HOSTILITIES

North and South Korea signed a historic agreement Thursday calling for their prime ministers to meet for the first time in an effort to end four decades of Cold War confrontation on the divided peninsula.

Yet in a scenario that has become commonplace in inter-Korean relations, the day ended in controversy, name-calling, and dissidents shouting anti-Seoul government slogans near the border.The acrimony erupted over the aborted border crossing by five North Korean civilians and threatened to spread a blight on Thursday's accord.

The planned fall talks between the prime ministers would focus on easing political and military tensions, promoting exchanges and other moves toward cooperation between the two states formed 42 years ago.

By signing the accord, North Korea's communist government of Kim Il Sung tacitly recognized the legitimacy of the Seoul government of President Roh Tae-woo.

"This precious fruit will open a decisive chapter in a road to ending national division and achieving peaceful unification," said South Korean chief delegate Song Han-ho.

North Korean chief delegate Paik Nam Jun said the agreement "will open a new chapter in the history of the national division."

The 19-point accord was signed at the truce village of Panmunjom, located inside the 2 1/2-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone that separates the communist north from the capitalist south.

The first prime ministers' talks would be held Sept. 4-7 in Seoul. A second meeting is to be held Oct. 16-19 in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

The two prime ministers - Kang Young-hoon of South Korea and Yon Hyung Muk of North Korea - are ceremonial figureheads with little policymaking roles. But their meeting as the highest level ever between the two rival states is seen as symbolically significant.

Within an hour of the document's signing, however, the rival Koreas became embroiled in disagreements over housing and travel arrangements for five North Koreans who were to have crossed the border Thrsday for a two-day visit in Seoul to plan a unification rally.