SEOUL, South Korea — North and South Korea reached a deal Tuesday to ease animosities, with Pyongyang expressing regret over a recent land mine blast and Seoul agreeing to halt propaganda broadcasts that had pushed the rivals to threats of war.

During two rounds of marathon talks that began Saturday at the border village of Panmunjom, the Koreas agreed on a set of steps aimed at easing tensions, with Pyongyang agreeing to lift a “quasi-state of war” that it had declared last week, according to South Korea’s presidential office and North Korea’s state media.

The countries also agreed to resume in September reunions of families separated by the Korean War and to hold further talks soon in either Seoul or Pyongyang, both sides said.

The agreements were expected to quickly ratchet down tensions that rose after South Korea blamed North Korea for the mine explosion at the border that maimed two soldiers and restarted anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts in retaliation this month.

But it’s unclear how long the good mood will continue as overall ties remain strained and many previous cooperation accords and projects are deadlocked.

“I hope the two sides faithfully implement the agreements and build up (mutual) confidence through a dialogue and cooperation and that it serves as a chance to work out new South-North relations,” chief South Korean negotiator and presidential national security director Kim Kwan-jin said in a televised news conference.

U.S. REACTION

The United States welcomed the agreement.

“What’s important here is that the two sides did get together, they did come to an agreement that they both found mutually satisfactory,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington, “and that tensions now, which have been running pretty high over the last few days, have an opportunity to decrease a little bit and take some of the air out of this.”

Kim described the North’s expression of “regret” over the fact the mine blast left the two soldiers injured as an apology and said the loudspeaker campaign would end at noon Tuesday unless an “abnormal” event occurs. It was still not clear whether North Korea was now admitting its involvement in the blast.

Pyongyang had denied involvement in the land mine explosions and rejected Seoul’s report that Pyongyang launched an artillery barrage last week.

Even as the two countries held talks over the weekend, South Korea’s military said North Korea continued to prepare for a fight, moving unusual numbers of troops and submarines to the border.

These were the highest-level talks between the two Koreas in a year.

That senior officials from countries that have spent recent days vowing to destroy each other were sitting together at a table in Panmunjom, the border enclave where the 1953 armistice ending fighting in the Korean War was agreed to, was considered a victory.

The marathon nature of the talks was not unusual. While the Koreas often have difficulty agreeing to talks, once they do, lengthy sessions are often the rule. During the latest Panmunjom talks, the first session lasted about 10 hours and the second session about 33 hours. After decades of animosity and bloodshed, finding common ground is a challenge.

The decision to hold talks came hours ahead of a Saturday deadline set by North Korea for the South to dismantle the propaganda loudspeakers.

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