|SLUG: 2-268548 U-S/North Korea||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
INTRO: The US-led United Nations command in Korea has expressed regret over Thursday's incursion by two fighter planes into North Korean airspace. The message was conveyed during a meeting between U-S and North Korean military
officials at the border town of Panmunjom. As Hyun-Sung Khang reports from the South Korean capital, the U-N command's suggestion of a joint investigation into the incident was rebuffed by the North.
TEXT: During the half hour meeting Saturday, U-S officials expressed regret over the incursion and said
there was an ongoing investigation. The United Nations Command reiterated that the two aircraft crossed into North Korean airspace inadvertently and were immediately brought back by emergency radio calls to the pilots.
The U-N Command says it suggested the North Korean Army participate in the investigation. During the meeting they also asked the North's Army to nvestigate allegations of incursion by North Korean soldiers, across the Military Demarcation Line, separating the two Koreas.
The UN command says it proposed setting up a military hotline to improve communications and ease tensions along the border. But the North Korean officials reportedly did not respond to any of the proposals.
Following the incursion, North Korea reacted angrily, calling it "deliberate and premeditated". They accused what
were described as "the warlike U-S forces" of trying to aggravate the improving situation on the Korean peninsula.
Just days earlier, Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright completed a landmark visit to Pyongyang where she held talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, an an effort to improve relations between Washington and Pyongyang.
The aircraft incursion took place during ten days of joint military exercises by South Korea and the United States. Pyongyang has condemned the maneuvers, saying they spoil the present cordial atmosphere on the peninsula.
Despite rapidly warming relations in recent months, the two Koreas remain technically at war. The Korean conflict, from 1950 to 1953, ended in a truce, rather than a peace treaty. The United States still maintains 37,000 troops in South Korea. (Signed)