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World Rival Koreas hold military talks at border village days after exchange of gunfire, reports say

A worker at a news paper distributing station in Seoul, South Korea, arranges South Korean newspapers Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, reporting about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's first appearance in nearly six weeks in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Ahn Young-joon/AP

Military generals from North and South Korea met at a border village Wednesday for talks on how to ease animosities between the rival countries following two shooting incidents last week, South Korean media said.

The two Koreas traded gunfire Friday after South Korean activists floated balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets across the border. Earlier last week, their navies exchanged warning shots along the countries' disputed sea boundary. There were no reports of casualties from either incident, which served as a reminder of tensions running high on the divided Korean Peninsula.

After the gunfire exchange, South Korea said it would sternly deal with any further provocations by North Korea, but stressed that the door for dialogue remained open. North Korea urged South Korea to stop hostile acts such as dropping leaflets if it wants improved ties.

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Hopes for better relations were given impetus after a group of high-level North Korean officials made a rare visit to South Korea earlier this month and agreed to resume senior-level talks. South Korea has said the senior-level talks would be among government officials, not military officers.

Wednesday's meeting among the generals at the border village of Panmunjom was expected to focus on how to ease tensions along the sea boundary, the scene of several bloody inter-Korean naval skirmishes in recent years, as well as discuss the dropping of propaganda leaflets, Yonhap news agency reported, citing unidentified South Korean government and ruling party sources. YTN television network carried a similar report.

North Korea has long demanded South Korea prohibit activists from dropping leaflets, but South Korea has refused, citing freedom of speech.

Senior opposition lawmaker Park Jie-won told a party meeting that the agenda for Wednesday's talks would include the sea boundary dispute and the propaganda balloons, according to a statement posted on his website.

Seoul's Defence Ministry and Unification Ministry said they couldn't confirm the talks. The meeting, if confirmed, would represent the first military talks between the two Koreas since early 2011, according to South Korean defence officials.

Yonhap said North Korea had requested South Korea not to publicize the meeting.

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