Thursday, January 17, 2019 | ePaper

Koreas, US-led UN Command discuss disarming border area

  • Print


North Korean army soldiers watch the south side while South Korean, (left) and U.S. Army soldiers stand guard at the truce villages of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea.

AP, Seoul :
The rival Koreas and the U.S.-led United Nations Command met Tuesday to discuss efforts to disarm a military zone the rivals control within their shared border under a peace agreement between the two countries.
The talks at the Panmunjom border village mark the first meeting between the Koreas and the U.N. Command to discuss ways to demilitarize the village's Joint Security Area.
South Korea's Defense Ministry said the military officials, including U.S. Army Col. Burke Hamilton, the secretary of the U.N. Command's military armistice committee, reviewed the ongoing demining operations at the Joint Security Area and further plans to demilitarize the zone.
The Korean militaries began clearing mines from the area at the start of this month following a broad agreement meant to reduce military tensions that was forged between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at their summit in September. The Koreas plan to withdraw guard posts and firearms from the Joint Security Area once the demining is complete.
At the summit in Pyongyang, the Koreas also agreed to create buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries, as well as a no-fly zone above the border, and remove 11 front-line guard posts by December. Moon and Kim also committed to reviving economic cooperation when possible, voicing optimism that international sanctions could end and allow such activity.
The Joint Security Area is overseen by the U.N. Command and by North Korea, with South Korean and North Korean border guards facing each other only meters (yards) apart. It is located inside the 4-kilometer-wide (2 ½-mile-wide) Demilitarized Zone, which is a heavily fortified zone that has formed the de facto border between the Koreas since the 1950-53 Korean War.
The Joint Security Area has been used for diplomatic engagements but was also a site of occasional bloodshed during the Cold War, including the killing of two American army officers by ax-wielding North Korean soldiers in 1976. It was also where a defecting North Korean soldier fled to the South last year in a hail of bullets fired by his former comrades.
Moon has said the military agreement is an important trust-building step that will reduce border tensions and create diplomatic space. Some military experts say South Korea is at risk of conceding some of its conventional military strength before the North takes any material steps toward giving up its nuclear weapons program, the goal of global diplomatic efforts.
South Korea's enthusiasm for engagement with its rival also appears to have created discomfort with the United States amid growing concerns that the North is lagging behind its supposed promise to denuclearize.
South Korea last week walked back on a proposal to lift some of its unilateral sanctions against the North following a blunt retort by President Donald Trump that Seoul could "do nothing" without Washington's approval.
South Korea's foreign minister has also said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed displeasure about the Koreas' military agreement, fueling speculation that Washington wasn't fully on board with the decision.
Trump has encouraged U.S. allies to maintain sanctions and pressure on North Korea until it denuclearizes. North Korea's state media on Tuesday criticized Washington's position, saying it threatens to erase the trust that has supposedly been created in high-level talks so far.

More News For this Category

US eyes Taiwan risk as China's military capabilities grow

US eyes Taiwan risk as China's military capabilities grow

Reuters, Washington  :The United States is closely watching Chinese intentions toward Taiwan, concerned that Beijing's growing military prowess may increase the risk it could one day consider bringing the self-ruled

Brexit deadline could be pushed back on UK request: French minister

Brexit deadline could be pushed back on UK request: French minister

AFP, Paris :The European Union could push back the looming March 29 Brexit deadline if London made such a request, France's Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau said on Wednesday."At the time

Democratic Senator Gillibrand to launch 2020 White House bid

Democratic Senator Gillibrand to launch 2020 White House bid

Democratic US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, an outspoken Donald Trump critic and champion of women's issues including the #MeToo movement, announced Tuesday she was jumping into the 2020 presidential race.Nearly 22

Top Saudi aide fired over Khashoggi murder still wields influence: Report

Top Saudi aide fired over Khashoggi murder still wields influence: Report

Reuters, London :A Saudi royal advisor fired over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues to wield influence in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's inner circle, according to Western, Arab

Australian towns among hottest spots on Earth as heatwave sizzles

Australian towns among hottest spots on Earth as heatwave sizzles

Australian towns were among the hottest places on Earth this week as a severe heatwave hit the continent's southeast, with forecasters warning of more record-breaking temperatures before the weekend.The past

News In Brief

Trump talked about US leaving NATO HuffPostPresident Donald Trump has made his disdain of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, amply clear. He's lambasted the decades-old alliance as "obsolete,"

Massive US teachers' strike, first in 30 years, affects 500,000 students

Massive US teachers' strike, first in 30 years, affects 500,000 students

AFP, Los Angeles :More than 30,000 public school teachers in Los Angeles walked off the job on Monday to press their demands for better pay, smaller class sizes and more

Iran satellite, that US was wary about, fails to reach orbit

Iran satellite, that US was wary about, fails to reach orbit

AFP, Tehran  :Iran launched a satellite criticised by the United States on Tuesday but it failed to reach orbit, state television quoted the telecommunications minister as saying."The Payam satellite was

Trump, Erdogan consider creating security zone in N Syria

Trump, Erdogan consider creating security zone in N Syria

AFP, Ankara :Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US counterpart Donald Trump mooted Monday the creation of a "security zone" in northern Syria as tensions rose over the fate of

Model claiming Trump's 'Russia secret' goes to trial over

Model claiming Trump's 'Russia secret' goes to trial over "sex scandal"

AFP, Pattaya :A Belarusian model who sensationally claimed she had proof of Russian efforts to help Donald Trump win office appeared in court Tuesday for the expected start of her