North Korea negotiator hails `turning-point` for ties with South

One of the two North Korean negotiators involved in recent crisis talks with South Korea spoke Thursday of a "dramatic turning-point" for relations between the two countries.

Seoul: One of the two North Korean negotiators involved in recent crisis talks with South Korea spoke Thursday of a "dramatic turning-point" for relations between the two countries.

In an upbeat and conciliatory assessment of the agreement struck at the talks, Kim Yang-Gon, a senior party official responsible for South Korean affairs, said it carried the potential for a genuine improvement in cross-border ties.

His comments, reported by the North`s official KCNA news agency, contrasted with those of lead negotiator Hwang Pyong-So, who focused on spinning the accord as a victory for the North and a salutary lesson for the South.

The deal struck in negotiations in the border truce village of Panmunjom Tuesday ended a tense military standoff that had pushed the two Koreas to the brink of an armed clash.

Under the terms, Seoul switched off loudspeakers blasting propaganda messages across the border after the North expressed regret over recent mine blasts that maimed two South Korean soldiers.

In his assessment to KCNA, Kim said the deal had not only resolved a "touch-and-go situation," but also represented a "dramatic turning-point for peace, stability, reconciliation and cooperation."

Stressing that "both sides" should learn a lesson from the recent crisis, Kim urged Seoul and Pyongyang to be bold and avoid complacency, so as to maintain the momentum provided by the agreement.

"We will actively make efforts to improve relations," he added.

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