North and South Korea have agreed to a deal aimed at “defusing heightened tensions” in the region, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported early Tuesday. Seoul agreed to stop broadcasting propaganda via loudspeakers along the border between the countries after Pyongyang expressed regret over a land mine explosion that injured two soldiers there earlier this month, South Korean national security adviser Kim Kwan-jin told reporters.
The announcement came after about 30 hours of talks between officials from the two Koreas. The discussion ended at about 1:45 a.m. local time, and Kim revealed the news in a TV broadcast about 30 minutes later, the Associated Press reported.
Military action in the area had been escalating for weeks, with South Korea reporting that North Korea was mobilizing its troops and submarines. Pyongyang had set a Saturday deadline for South Korean soldiers to dismantle the speakers it was using to broadcast anti-North propaganda following the land mine blast. North Korea threatened “all-out war” if the sessions, which Seoul had resumed after an 11-year hiatus, did not stop.
(URGENT) N. Korea says it will lift 'semi-state of war' http://t.co/j2XJMduqkp
— Yonhap News Agency (@YonhapNews) August 24, 2015
The incidents coincided with Ulchi Freedom Guardian, an annual military exercise in South Korea that attracts participants from countries including the United States, Australia and Canada. They also prompted American officials to update their war plans in case the conflict intensified, CNN reported.
As part of the deal Tuesday, the Koreas agreed to hold a meeting of families that were separated by Korean War of the 1950s. The previous family reunion was scheduled for September 2013, but North Korea postponed it at the last minute. It was finally held in February 2014. About 66,000 people, most of them over 80 years old, were registered to participate in the reunions, the Korea Times reported.
Going forward, the two countries will “hold talks again in Seoul or Pyongyang as soon as possible,” according to Yonhap.