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SEOUL – North Korea was scheduled to meet with U.N. Command officials Thursday morning to prepare for high-level talks about the sinking of a South Korean patrol ship after postponing the meeting Tuesday, UNC officials said Wednesday.

The colonel-level meetings were scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Thursday at Panmunjom, with officials setting an agenda for general-levels talks to be held at a later date, UNC spokesman David Oten said.

Thursday's meeting will be the first between North Korea and the UNC since the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan.

The two sides were scheduled to meet Tuesday morning, Oten said, but North Korea postponed the meeting two hours before it was scheduled to begin for “administrative reasons," giving no further explanation. North Korea offered to reschedule the talks the same day, according to a UNC news release.

The UNC proposed the meeting on June 26, but North Korea rejected the offer before agreeing July 9 to a meeting. The United Nations Security Council passed a statement that day condemning the attack on the Cheonan, though the measure did not blame North Korea for the sinking.

A South Korean-led investigation team has determined that a North Korean torpedo sank the ship, killing 46 crew members. North Korea has strongly denied its involvement and has threatened to take military action if it is blamed for the sinking.

According to the UNC, violations of the Korean War armistice agreement are supposed to be discussed through general officer talks. Sixteen rounds of general officer talks have been held at Panmunjom since 1998, most recently in March 2009 at North Korea's request to talk about reducing tensions on the peninsula.

The UNC is headed by the top American general on the peninsula, U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Walter Sharp.

rowlanda@pstripes.osd.mil

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