High-level talks between North Korea and South Korea have begun in an effort to defuse mounting tensions that have pushed the rivals to the brink of a possible military confrontation.
An official from South Korea's Unification Ministry, who didn't want to be named because of office rules, says Saturday's talks are being held at the border village of Panmunjom.
The meeting comes after a Saturday deadline set by North Korea for South Korea to dismantle loudspeakers broadcasting anti-North Korean propaganda at their border. North Korea has declared its front-line troops are in full war readiness and prepared to go to battle if Seoul doesn't back down.
The South Korean presidential office said earlier that the country's national security director, Kim Kwan-jin, and Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo would sit down with Hwang Pyong So, the top political officer for the Korean People's Army, and Kim Yang Gon, a senior North Korean official responsible for South Korean affairs. Hwang is considered by outside analysts to be North Korea's second most important official after supreme leader Kim Jong Un.