This Department of Defense photo show the concrete wall and barbed wire separating South Korea from North Korea Kijong-Dong "Propaganda Village". On Monday, May 25, 2009 North Korea allegedly detonated a nuclear device during an underground test and test fired several short range missile. North Korea announced that it has restarted its nuclear weapons research program. (UPI Photo/Scott Stewart/USAF) | License Photo
SEOUL, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- South Korea has "high expectations" ahead of its military meeting with North Korea Tuesday, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said.
"I believe this is a good opportunity for the North, that it is engaging in dialogue with the South at this point," Lee said in a recent televised interview. "I have high expectations that the North will realize it is time for change."
The meeting at Panmunjom, a truce village on their heavily fortified border -- and the only portion of the Korean demilitarized zone where South and North Korean forces stand face-to-face -- will be the first dialogue between the two countries since last September and the first since tension peaked on the peninsula late last year.
Last March, South Korea accused the North of sinking one its navy ships, killing 46 sailors. Seoul blamed the sinking on a North Korean torpedo attack. The North denied any role in incident.
In August, North Korea fired 110 artillery rounds near Yeonpyeong and another South Korean island, South Korea's Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said at the time.
Then on Nov. 23, in the most serious clash in decades, North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire after dozens of shells fired from the North struck a South Korean island near the countries' disputed maritime border. Two South Korean soldiers were killed, 15 were wounded and two civilians died.
The North said the South fired first. South Korean military officials acknowledged there had been a live-fire artillery test, but insisted the firing was away from the North.
The United States and South Korea began naval exercises Nov. 28.
The two sides agreed two weeks ago to hold the preliminary round of military talks to set a time and agenda for higher-level talks, possibly between defense ministers, Britain's Sky News reported.
South Korea said a formal apology for what it saw as North Korea's blatant provocations was not needed for Seoul to go ahead with higher-level talks.
"You don't have colonels talking about apologizing," a South Korean official told Sky News, referring to the officers' meeting Tuesday.