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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 08:30 GMT
Koreas begin key security forum
Composite image of South Korean Defence Minister Kim Jang-soo and North Korean Vice-Marshal Kim Il-chol
South Korea's Kim Jang-soo (left) is meeting Kim Il-chol
The defence ministers of North and South Korea have begun talks in Pyongyang aimed at reducing tension along the disputed border.

They are also expected to discuss a joint fishing area in the Yellow Sea to end gun battles over fishing rights.

This is the first inter-Korean defence ministers' meeting in seven years - and only the second in 50.

The talks follow last month's summit between the North's leader Kim Jong-il and the South's President Roh Moo-hyun.

Those talks sealed an agreement to expand bilateral economic co-operation.

Rail service

South Korean Defence Minister Kim Jang-soo said he felt a strong responsibility to help bring peace to the peninsula.

Rail links

"The South Korean delegation deeply understands the ardent wish of all compatriots to ease military tension, build up confidence and guarantee a permanent peace between South and North Korea," he said after arriving in Pyongyang.

Kim Jang-soo will hold three days of talks with his counterpart Kim Il-chol.

Before leaving Seoul, Kim Jang-soo explained his approach to the meeting.

"We should deal with the logical issues with a logical mind, and if that doesn't work, we should deal with the warm-hearted mind of 'we are one nation'. If that doesn't work, I'm afraid that there is no other way."

During the military talks this week, security measures for a cross-border rail service beginning next month are likely to be discussed.

Despite progress in North Korea's nuclear decommissioning in recent months, military officials from the US and South Korea have stressed that the North still maintains most of its army near the inter-Korean border, creating fears that the conventional military threat has not been reduced.

Korean military chiefs meet

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