Koreas agree to hold talks on reducing tensions

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Latest on the border talks between North and South Korea (all times local):

9:30 p.m.

The two Koreas have agreed in a joint statement to hold talks on reducing military tensions and “actively cooperate” in next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Senior officials of the rival Koreas gathered at the border village of Panmunjom on Tuesday for their first formal talks in about two years.

South Korean media say they issued a statement after the meeting in which they agreed to hold military talks aimed at reducing animosity along their tense border.

The statement says North Korea also agreed to send a delegation to the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and work for the success of the games.

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6:15 p.m.

South Korean media say North Korea has restored a military hotline with the South, in the second reopening of a suspended inter-Korean communication channel in about a week.

All major inter-Korean communication channels had been shut down amid animosities over the North’s nuclear program in recent years. But North Korea reopened one of the channels last week as signs emerged of improving ties.

The two Koreas were holding rare talks at the border village of Panmunjom on Tuesday to discuss how to cooperate in next month’s Olympics in South Korea and improve their long-strained ties.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency cited an unidentified Seoul official as saying the North Korean delegation to the talks told South Korean negotiators that it had restored another communication channel.

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5:35 p.m.

China says it welcomes moves by North and South Korea to improve relations after the sides held rare high-profile talks and called on the international community to lend its backing to such efforts.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters that Beijing was “pleased to see this high-level talk between the two sides.”

Lu said that “China welcomes and supports the positive moves taken by the two sides to improve relations, and we hope the talk will make a good start for the two sides to further improve ties, promote reconciliation and cooperation and alleviate tensions on the peninsula.”

China is North Korea’s only major ally and has come under heavy pressure to use its leverage to steer Pyongyang back to negotiations on ending its nuclear programs.

While Beijing argues its influence is limited, it has signed on to increasingly harsh United Nations sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime, including bans on key exports of textiles, seafood…

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