Koreas agree to pull DMZ guards

UN forces, two sides agree to re­move weapons at bor­der

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

North and South Korea and the UN Com­mand agreed on Mon­day to with­draw firearms and guard posts in the de­mil­i­ta­rized zone vil­lage of Pan­munjom this week, Seoul’s de­fense min­istry said, the lat­est move in a fast-im­prov­ing re­la­tion­ship.

The three sides held their sec­ond round of talks at Pan­munjom to dis­cuss ways to de­mil­i­ta­rize the bor­der in line with a re­cent in­ter-Korean pact reached at last month’s sum­mit in Py­ongyang.

The US-led UN Com­mand, which has over­seen af­fairs in the DMZ since the end of hos­til­i­ties in the 1950-53 Korean War, was not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment, but it said on Fri­day it sup­ports the two Koreas’ ef­forts to im­ple­ment their mil­i­tary deal.

The neigh­bors are look­ing to with­draw 11 guard posts within a 1-kilo­me­ter ra­dius of the Mil­i­tary De­mar­ca­tion Line on their bor­der by the end of the year.

They also plan to pull out all firearms from a Joint Se­cu­rity Area (JSA) at Pan­munjom and cut to 35 each the num­bers of per­son­nel sta­tioned there and share in­for­ma­tion on sur­veil­lance equip­ment.

At Mon­day’s meet­ing, the three sides agreed to re­move firearms and guard posts from the JSA by Thurs­day, and carry out a joint in­spec­tion over the fol­low­ing two days, the min­istry said.

The two Koreas have been re­mov­ing land­mines around the area as part of the agree­ment and they con­firmed the com­ple­tion of the dem­i­ning op­er­a­tion at the talks with the UN Com­mand.

“We dis­cussed the time­line of the pull­out of firearms and guard posts, as well as ways to ad­just the num­ber of guard per­son­nel and con­duct joint in­spec­tions,” the min­istry said.

The agree­ment also in­cludes a halt in “all hos­tile acts” and a no-fly zone around the bor­der.

North and South Korea are tech­ni­cally still at war be­cause the 1950-53 con­flict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, but re­la­tions have im­proved con­sid­er­ably in the last year.

Af­ter his third sum­mit in Py­ongyang, South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in said the North was ready to in­vite in­ter­na­tional ex­perts to watch the dis­man­tling of a mis­sile site and would close the main Yong­byon nu­clear com­plex if Wash­ing­ton took re­cip­ro­cal ac­tions.

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