North and South Korea have started official talks less than three months after North Korean artillery bombardment of a South Korean island killing four people and bringing the peninsula to the brink of all-out war. The low-level dialogue between colonel-level military officials marks a rapid cooling of tensions between the rival Koreas after the regime of Kim Jong-il abruptly offered unconditional talks to Seoul last January, following a year of military attacks and bellicose rhetoric. If successful, the ice-breaker talks could pave the way for defence minister-level engagement later this year, followed by a possible resumption of the stalled six party nuclear disarmament talks. However, analysts have cautioned against high expectations from the dialogue, as Seoul and Washington have pledged not enter into substantive negotiations with Pyongyang until it shows it is sincere about giving up its nuclear arsenal. The meeting, which lasted several hours, took place in Panmunjom, a cluster of blue huts the Demilitarized Zone that has separated the two Koreas since the end of the Korean War in 1953.