North, South Korea end marathon crisis talks

 North and South Korea on Tuesday wrapped up marathon talks aimed at defusing a crisis that pushed the two rivals to the brink of armed conflict.

Seoul: North and South Korea on Tuesday wrapped up marathon talks aimed at defusing a crisis that pushed the two rivals to the brink of armed conflict.

There was no immediate word on the outcome of the negotiations, held between top aides to the countries` leaders in the border truce village of Panmunjom, where the 1950-53 Korean War ceasefire was signed.

The presidential Blue House in Seoul said the South`s lead negotiator, National Security Adviser Kim Kwan-Jin, would announce the result at 2:00 am (1700 GMT).

The discussions were aimed at de-escalating sky-high military tensions which triggered a rare artillery exchange over the border last week, after which North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un ordered his frontline troops onto a war-footing.

The talks had begun early Saturday evening, shortly after the passing of a North Korean deadline for Seoul to halt loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts across the border or face military action.

They were held against a background of continually rising tensions, with South Korea and US fighter jets flying simulated bombing sorties, and North Korea reportedly deploying two thirds of its 70-vessel submarine fleet.

The roots of the crisis lay in landmine blasts on the border earlier this month that maimed two South Korean soldiers.

Accusing Pyongyang of laying the mines, Seoul retaliated by switching on giant banks of loudspeakers, that had lain silent for more than a decade, and blasting high-decibel propaganda messages into North Korea.

The North denied any role in the mine blasts and issued an ultimatum for the South to halt its "psychological warfare" or face attack.

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