See More on Facebook

Diplomacy

Korea hold military talks to remove guards, end hostilities

North and South Korea held high-level military talks to end hostilities and remove guard posts in the demilitarized zone.


Written by

Updated: August 1, 2018

The two Koreas’ militaries “broadly agreed” on the need for disarming a jointly controlled area at the truce village of Panmunjom and excavating war remains inside the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone, Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense said Tuesday.

At general-level military talks held at Panmunjom Tuesday, the two sides’ delegates shared the need for the withdrawal of guard posts from the DMZ on a trial basis and suspension of hostile activities in the West Sea, the ministry said.

The two sides failed to come up with a joint statement and a specific timeline for the military confidence-building measures, however, after marathon negotiations that began at 10 a.m.

“Regarding specific implementation timeline and method, we agreed to continue our discussion through exchange of letters and working-level contacts,” South Korean chief delegate Maj. Gen. Kim Do-gyun said during a press briefing held after the talks.

“We believe that the inter-Korean military talks were meaningful because we aligned our positions and shared the need for implementing military components of the Panmunjom Declaration following the inter-Korean summit in April,” Kim said.

Before attending the military talks, Kim told reporters the meeting aimed to implement the Panmunjom Declaration, in which President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un agreed to cease cross-border hostilities and build trust for a possible arms reduction.

Expectations have been heightened that the two Koreas will discuss the withdrawal of troops and equipment from guard posts inside the Demilitarized Zone as part of efforts to transform the heavily fortified area into a symbol of peace between the two Koreas.

In a briefing to lawmakers last week, the Ministry of National Defense said the withdrawal plan would be sought “on a trial basis” until the conditions are in place for a complete withdrawal, following environmental and historical research on the cross-border region.

“The two Koreas agreed on the need to withdraw guard posts on a trial basis, expanding the cooperation into a broader area and ultimately pulling out all guard posts,” a military official told reporters under the customary condition of anonymity.

The official added that South Korea will not withdraw the guard posts unilaterally, stressing the measure would also apply to North Korea. “It was more about building a consensus for a starting point,” the official said.

The meeting kicked off at 10 a.m. after North Korean delegates crossed the border with South Korea at the truce village of Panmunjom. The meeting took place at the Peace House on the South Korean side.

The two Koreas each brought a five-member delegation to the meeting. The South Korean delegation consisted of officials from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Unification Ministry and Cheong Wa Dae. The North Korean delegation included officers from its army and navy.

The meeting came after North Korea’s relentless calls for South Korea to exert an active role in declaring an end to the Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. Pyongyang has accused the US of delaying the declaration and making unilateral demands for denuclearization.

“Some (South Korean media reports) suggested that we are trying to talk South Korea into pursuing the declaration of ending the Korean War because our attempts to convince the US are not working out,” North Korea’s chief delegate An Ik-san said after greeting the South Korean delegates.

“I think it does make sense,” An added. “Whether (those reports) are valid or not, we have come to realize that all the Korean people take really seriously today’s meeting … and our militaries’ efforts for peace and prosperity between the two Koreas.”

The Moon Jae-in administration seeks to declare an end to the Korean War as soon as possible and within this year. The administration asserted that the measure would facilitate North Korea’s denuclearization process by offering it a security guarantee.

The general-level meeting came about a month after the two Koreas held military talks for the first time in 11 years. The previous meeting ended without a significant breakthrough in military confidence-building measures.

The two sides’ delegates engaged in marathon negotiations, even forgoing a lunch break, after having started the meeting on a positive note. The delegates exchanged pleasantries and jokes before entering closed-door negotiations.

“There is a saying that goes like this: Grains will not grow well when they are not taken care of. I think it takes time and effort to reap good grains,” said South Korean chief delegate Maj. Gen. Kim Do-gyun when he greeted his North Korean counterpart An.

“Through the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration, I think seeds have already been planted. By putting our heads together for earnest deliberations despite the sweltering heat, I think we can definitely secure a good harvest this fall,” Kim added.

North Korean chief delegate An sought to break the ice with a joke about a bundle of documents carried by Kim. “Look at those papers, it seems they have a lot to bring up,” An said, prompting laughter among participants.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Korea Herald
About the Author: The Korea Herald is the nation’s largest English-language daily and the country’s sole member of the Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy

UN panel adopts resolution condemning NK human rights abuses

It is expected to pass the UN General Assembly next month for the 14th consecutive year. A United Nations committee on Thursday adopted a resolution calling for accountability for gross human rights violations in North Korea. The UN Third Committee, which oversees humanitarian issues, passed the document by consensus without a vote. The South Korean government said it joined the consensus-based decision in accordance with a policy to work together with the international community for a “substantive improvement” in the human rights of North Korean people. In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this year’s reso


By The Korea Herald
November 16, 2018

Diplomacy

Rohingya refugees refuse repatriation

Repatriation postponed as Rohingyas feel return to Myanmar still not safe. The much-awaited launch of the Rohingya repatriation was cancelled at the last moment yesterday as the refugees refused to return to Rakhine for fear of fresh persecution. “The refugees don’t want to return now,” Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali told reporters after briefing foreign diplomats in the capital’s State Guest House Padma in the evening. He said Bangladesh sheltered the persecuted Rohingyas with an open heart when they fled Rakhine last year. “We can’t force them to go,” he said, adding that Bangladesh would now discuss with Myanmar sending a group of Rohingya leaders (majhis) to Rakhine to


By Daily Star
November 16, 2018

Diplomacy

China says Pacific island ties no threat to any nation

Government says Xi’s visits to help improve region’s development, people’s livelihoods. China said on Tuesday its cooperation with and assistance to Pacific island countries never target a third party, and called for other countries to jointly help promote the region’s development and improve people’s livelihoods. Vice-Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang made the remark at a news briefing on President Xi Jinping’s state visits to Papua New Guinea, Brunei and the Philippines, and his attendance at the 26th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting. Xi’s visits will start on Thursday and last to Nov 21. During Xi’s stay in Papua New Guinea, he will meet with leaders of the eight Pacific island countries that have established diplomatic ties with China and deliver a speech at a group meeting with them. In the speech, Xi is expected


By China Daily
November 14, 2018

Diplomacy

India watchful amid developments in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s political crisis has a regional power closely watching developments. The return of Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa to power in Sri Lanka amid political turmoil has triggered concern in India, with analysts warning it could lead to a deterioration of ties with the island nation to its south-east and increase the influence of China, already making serious inroads into South Asia. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Oct 26 and named his one-time rival as his replacement. The move plunged the country into political turmoil and a constitution


By The Straits Times
November 14, 2018

Diplomacy

Report of NK’s ‘undisclosed’ missile bases not new, S. Korea says

South Korea’s presidential office on Tuesday played down a new report on North Korea’s “undisclosed” missile sites. South Korea’s government said that it’s going too far to call the North’s continued activity a “great deception” given that it has no specific agreement to dismantle or disclose the facilities mentioned in the report issued by Beyond Parallel, a group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The group said it has located 13 out of an estimated 20 missile operating bases undeclared by the secretive communist regime. “The dispersed deployment of these bases and distinctive tactics employed by ballistic missile units are combined with decades of extensive camouflage, concealment and deception practices to maximize the survival of its missile units from pre-emptive strikes and during wartime operations,” the report


By The Korea Herald
November 13, 2018

Diplomacy

‘Forced repatriation’ to pose security risk

International crisis warns that forced repatriation of Rohingya refugees could pose serious security risks. The International Crisis Group has warned of serious security risks of “forced repatriation” of the Rohingya, just as Myanmar and Bangladesh prepare for the November 15 return of the refugees sheltered in Bangladesh. In a statement, the Brussels-based global advocacy body said Rohingyas strongly opposed the repatriation move and would do whatever they can to resist it. “This [forced repatriation] will increase tension in the camps and could lead to confrontations between refugees and Bangladesh security forces and greatly complicate humanitarian operations. “A botched repatriation attempt could potentially set back peace and development efforts by years,” said the statement released yesterday. It comes two weeks after Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin the repatriation


By Daily Star
November 13, 2018