SEOUL - North and South Korea reached agreement early on Tuesday to end a standoff involving an exchange of artillery fire that had pushed the divided peninsula into a state of heightened military tension.
Under the accord reached in the very early hours of Tuesday after more than two days of talks, North Korea expressed regret over the recent wounding of South Korean soldiers in landmine blasts and Seoul agreed to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts, both sides said.
North Korea also agreed to end the "semi" state of war it had declared. The two sides will hold follow-up talks to discuss a range of issues on improving ties, the joint statement said.
"It is very meaningful that from this meeting North Korea apologised for the landmine provocation and promised to work to prevent the recurrence of such events and ease tensions," Kim Kwan-jin, national security adviser to South Korean President Park Geun-hye, told a televised news briefing.
Pyongyang has previously denied laying the landmines, and in the statement did not explicitly take responsibility for them.
The marathon talks at the Panmunjom truce village inside the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas began on Saturday, shortly after Pyongyang's deadline for the South to halt its propaganda broadcasts or face military action.
"They both made compromises. South Korea did not get an apology, they got a statement of regret about the injury, which they can spin as an apology," said John Delury of Yonsei University in Seoul.
"The more important point is maintaining this channel and reopening the relationship. This is hardly going to be easy to implement, but it's a landmark agreement which lays out a path."
Seoul and Pyongyang have remained technically in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean war ended in a truce, rather than a peace treaty, and hopes for improved relations have repeatedly been dashed over the years.