KOREAS HOLD MILITARY TALKS
First in more than a decade
NORTH and South Korea held military talks for the first time in more than a decade yesterday, as two-star generals from both sides met just two days after United States President Donald Trump floated his plan to halt joint exercises with South Korea.
The talks, held in the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone (DMZ), followed an inter-Korean summit in April, at which leaders of the two Koreas had agreed to defuse tensions and cease “all hostile acts”.
The talks came two days after Trump said he would stop “expensive, provocative” war games with the South, following his historic summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Trump’s move had caught South Korean officials off guard, but they said a halt in the drills was needed while dialogue with North Korea was under way.
The military talks had been initially slated for last month, but were postponed after North Korea called off another planned high-level meeting in protest against US-South Korean air combat exercises.
The process was put back on track during a surprise second summit early this month between Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
The last time the two Koreas held military talks was in 2007.
Lieutenant-General Ahn Il-san, the North’s chief delegate, said the delay was due to “certain headwinds” without elaborating, adding that the two sides should overcome future obstacles based on mutual understanding and the spirit of the inter-Korean summit.
Major-General Kim Do-gyun, the South’s lead negotiator who is in charge of North Korea policy at the Defence Ministry, said before departing for DMZ that he and Ahn would explore ways to ease military tensions and the schedule of a ministerial meeting.
They are also expected to discuss the planned establishment of a hotline between the two militaries.
South Korean Major-General Kim Do-gyun (right) shaking hands with North Korean Lieutenant-General Ahn Il-san during high-level military talks in Panmunjom, North Korea, yesterday.