Korean officials meet to discuss past, future agreements
Military officials from South and North Korea have begun working-level talks to formulate the details of former agreements and lay out the contours of a deal to be signed at the end of an upcoming summit between the leaders of the two former foes.
The military negotiations kicked off at Tongilgak, a North Korea-controlled building in the truce village of Panmunjom, within the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which separates the two Koreas, on Thursday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said in a report.
According to the South Korean military, Pyongyang recently made the proposal for the talks through a letter, which Seoul later accepted.
Each side has sent a three-member delegation to the talks, the English-language Korea Herald newspaper reported, adding that army Col. Cho Young-keun, who deals with North Korea policy at the Ministry of Defense, is leading the delegation from Seoul while the delegates from Pyongyang are led by Col. Om Chang-nam.
The two delegations are expected to discuss a series of issues such as removing the DMZ guard posts on a trial basis, jointly excavating the remains of fallen troops from the Korean War in the buffer zone, and disarming the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom.
The meeting is also expected to focus on preparations for the third summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which is due in Pyongyang on September 18-20.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un reiterates his commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, state media report, as Pyongyang and Seoul arrange a third summit.
The results of the military negotiations are likely to be incorporated into the military accord that is expected to be officially adopted by Moon and Kim in the upcoming inter-Korean summit.
During a summit in April, Moon and Kim agreed to hammer out a practical scheme to turn the areas around the Northern Limit Line (NLL) — a de facto maritime boundary — into a “maritime peace zone” in an attempt to avoid accidental military clashes and guarantee safe fishing activities.
The two Koreas fought a war in the early 1950s. It ended with a truce and not a peace treaty. Ever since, the US military, which fought in the war on behalf of South Korea, has maintained massive presence in the region, holding up the prospect of alleged North Korean aggression.
But Kim initiated a rapprochement with South Korea in January, and soon met with Moon — the one time in April and another time in May. The two Koreas have since been advancing their relations.