North Korea walks out of talks with South

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North Korean military officers walked out of the first official talks in months with rival South Korea yesterday, dashing hopes of easing tensions after an artillery attack in November.

The two sides disagreed about the agenda for their next talks, what many had hoped would be the first high-level defence talks in years. South Korea argued the talks should focus on two attacks against it last year, while the North Koreans demanded discussion of other issues as well, South Korea's Defence Ministry said.

South Korea blames the North for sinking a warship last March, which killed 46 sailors. Tensions escalated in November when the North launched an artillery barrage on a South Korean island.

The relationship between the two sides has worsened since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's administration took a harder line with the North.