North and South Korea hold first talks since shelling

Military officials from North and South Korea are holding their first talks since the North shelled a South Korean island in November, leaving four dead.South Korea says the talks, at the border village of Panmunjom, are intended to lay the groundwork for higher-level meetings.Relations have been extremely tense since 46 South Koreans died when their warship was sunk last March.Seoul blamed the North for the incident, something Pyongyang denies.Tuesday’s talks, being held between colonels, could pave the way for a meeting of the two countries’ defence ministers.At the weekend South Korea intercepted a North Korean fishing boat a few kilometres south of the disputed sea border and close to Yeonpyeong island, which was shelled by the North.The 31 people on board are being questioned by South Korean officials.An official said that the North Koreans were workers and not family members, adding that no children were on board.A summit between the two Koreas’ leaders is a possibility, the BBC’s Nick Ravenscroft reports from the South Korean capital, Seoul.However, the South is wary of a talks process that wins aid for Kim Jong-il’s administration in the North without concessions in return.It says the North must show what it calls sincerity before receiving economic assistance.Pyongyang has spoken instead of an “exchange of views”.Mr Kim is widely thought to be preparing his youngest son to take his place, our correspondent says, and successful talks, bringing aid to his cash-strapped country, may ease the dynastic succession – BBC