Top aides to the leaders of North and South Korea will meet at the Panmunjom truce village straddling their border on Saturday, both sides said, raising hopes for an end to a standoff that put the two sides on the brink of armed conflict.
The meeting is to take place half an hour after North Korea's previously set ultimatum demanding that the South halt its loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the border or face military action.
Tension on the Korean peninsula has been running high since an exchange of artillery fire on Thursday, prompting calls for calm from the United Nations, the United States and the North's lone major ally, China. South Korea's military remained on high alert despite the announced talks, a defence ministry official said.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye's national security adviser and her unification minister will meet Hwang Pyong So, the top military aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and a senior official who handles inter-Korean affairs at 6 p.m. Seoul time (0900 GMT).
"The South and the North agreed to hold contact related to the ongoing situation in South-North relations," Kim Kyou-hyun, the presidential Blue House's deputy national security adviser, said in a televised briefing.
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