Billed as a low level meeting of military, North and South Korea delegations briefly meet at Panmunjom and then left without setting a date to meet again.
The fact that a meeting of the two Koreas meet is significant, the more especially since the South swore that it would not give face to the North.
South Korea's Lee Myung bak back downed from his high moral horse by sending his colonels to Panmumjom to discuss ways the North and the South could diminish tensions on the Korean peninsula, which in the wake of shelling along the NLL [Northern Limit Line] in November revived fears of renewed warfare. [GuamDiary has long commented on the North's riposte to the South's live shelling along the NLL.]
The North has, for many months, been calling for a meeting with the South since the sinking of the 'Cheonan', but has met a stone cold silence as a response. [GuamDiary suggests reading its postings on the questions the sinking raised and remains unaswered even today.]
Lee Myung bak felt humiliated and insulted by its sunken corvette and the lack of response to its provocative military exercises with live ammo in early December 2010The North kept a cool head in the face of the South's warlike manoeuvres.
Lee's US patron ultimately forced him to send a military delegation to Panmunjom. Seoul, in kneejerk fashion, marched to Obama's tune.
Yet, with bad grace, Lee's agenda was to scupper the talks immediately just after they began. South Korea would not go any further with the North unless it acknowledged its complicity in torpedo[e]ing the 'Cheonan' and shelling Pyonyeong island. Seoul knew that the North disclaimed any responsibility in either case, and by raising these two points deadlock the meeting. Lee's colonels got what they desired. The North left the talks 'sine dia'.
Lee's childish behaviour prolongs tensions in the divided Korean peninsula even though he is calling for stability. He, like his patron the US, really do not want to deal directly with the North; for these two allies simply are looking to 'roll back' the North to collapse. China won't allow them to get away with their dirty tricks, and as such, will back up Kim Jong il. So we've a 'Mexican standoff' which will remain. Events in Egypt and the Arab World and Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan are giving Washington more headaches than it bargained for.
So the hot and sour relations between the two Koreas will obtain.