North and South Korea AGREE to withdraw firearms in move that could see end to KOREAN WAR

Monday, October 22, 2018
By Paul Martin

NORTH and South Korea have united in an agreement to withdraw firearms and guard posts in the demilitarised village of Panmunjom, in what the nations’ defence officials have dubbed as the latest move in fast-improving relations between the two states.

Mon, Oct 22, 2018

Joining the UN Command, the three sides held a second round of talks at Panmunjom to discuss ways to demilitarise the border in line with a recent inter-Korean pact reached at last month’s summit in Pyongyang.

Both North and South Korea will withdraw 11 guard posts within a 0.6-mile radius of the Military Demarcation Line on their border by the end of the year.

They will also 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.

Today, 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, Seoul’s defence ministry said.

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

The announcement follows US concerns that the Korean military initiative could undermine defence readiness and comes without substantial progress on North Korea’s promised denuclearisation.

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 key missile site and would close the main Yongbyon nuclear complex if Washington took reciprocal actions.

Those actions could include putting a formal end to the war, opening of a US liaison office in North Korea, humanitarian aid and an exchange of economic experts.

But US President Donald Trump has demanded North Korea takes irreversible steps to scrap its arsenal, such as a full disclosure of nuclear facilities and material.

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