Koreas holding military talks to discuss easing tensions

By Yonhap
  • Published : Jun 14, 2018 - 09:37
  • Updated : Jun 14, 2018 - 14:37

PANMUNJEOM -- South and North Korea are holding their first high-level military talks in more than 10 years Thursday to discuss ways to ease cross-border tensions.

The meeting started at 10 a.m. on the northern side of the truce village of Panmunjom, according to Seoul's defense ministry.

These were the first such talks since the two sides met in December 2007.

South Korea's five-member delegation is led by Major General Kim Do-gyun. The North's delegation is led by Lieutenant General An Ik-san, who is accompanied by four other officials. 

South Korea`s Major General Kim Do-gyun (second from right) shakes hands with North Korea`s Lieutenant General An Ik-san (second from left) at the northern side of Panmunjeom in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday. (Yonhap)

"Given that this meeting is being held after a long hiatus, we will have to make it produce results," Kim, the South's top delegate, said at the start of the meeting. "I believe it is high time to produce good results if military authorities of the South and the North make cooperative and concerted efforts."

Greeting the South Korean delegation, An, the North's top delegate, joked that Kim would be recorded as the first person in uniform who has crossed the military demarcation line that divides the two Koreas.

He added that two sides should talk with the spirit of the Panmunjom Declaration in mind and the principle of being considerate of the other's position.

The Panmunjom Declaration refers to the April 27 inter-Korean summit agreement, which included the two sides' commitment to joint efforts to ease military tensions and "practically eliminate the danger of war."

The general-grade talks are expected to focus on discussing the restoration of a cross-border military communication line, holding military talks on a regular basis and establishing a hotline between their military leaders.

The two sides could also discuss the recovery of the remains of fallen soldiers in the Demilitarized Zone that bisects the Korean peninsula. South Korean President Moon Jae-in recently promised to push for this amid improving ties with North Korea.

During Tuesday's summit in Singapore, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to cooperate on recovering the remains of American soldiers killed or who went missing during the Korean War.

Experts say that the North could possibly bring up the issue of halting joint military drills between South Korea and the US, as Trump said he would halt "expensive and provocative" joint war games with South Korea after his summit.

The military talks, initially slated for May, were postponed when Pyongyang abruptly canceled bilateral high-level talks in protest of the annual South Korea-US air force drills. In a meeting of high-level officials earlier this month, the two Koreas agreed to hold the talks this week. (Yonhap)