The talks were intended to follow up on security agreements made at a meeting earlier this year but which have been stalled by the row over the sea border.

 

In May the two sides agreed to set up a joint fishing area around the disputed border and to cooperate on security arrangements for joint economic projects in the area.

 

However, lower-level talks intended to push ahead with those projects have made no progress.

 

Conflict warning

 

There are fears that a clash at sea
could trigger a full-blown war [Reuters]
Recently North Korea's naval command has repeated warnings that a conflict could erupt unless South Korean vessels stop entering its waters.

 

The waters around the border are rich fishing grounds and boats from the two Koreas routinely jostle for position during the crab-catching season in May and June.

 

Deadly clashes broke out in the area in 1999 and 2002, leading to fears that a fire-fight could easily escalate into a full-blown war.

 

The 1950-53 Korea War ended in a cease-fire that has never been replaced with a peace treaty.

 

As a result both countries maintain a huge military force on a hair-trigger along their shared border.