KOREAS HOLD MIL­I­TARY TALKS

First in more than a decade

New Straits Times - - NEWS / REGION -

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.

REUTERS PIC

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.

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