South Korea proposed that North Korea move its long-range artillery away from the heavily fortified border in an effort to reduce tensions during last week's rare cross-border military talks, government sources here said Sunday.
During Thursday's general-grade meeting, the first in more than a decade, Seoul made a series of suggestions, including relocating the artillery pieces to areas 30 to 40 kilometers away from the Military Demarcation Line separating the two Koreas, the insiders said.
The two sides held the talks to follow up on the Panmunjeom Declaration from the April 27 inter-Korean summit at the truce village, which calls for joint efforts to alleviate military tensions and "practically eliminate the danger of war."
"We conveyed our position to the North that in light of consultations between the North and the United States over the denuclearization issue, we have to craft measures to drastically reduce military tensions by removing practical threats," a source said on condition of anonymity.
Military officials from the two Koreas hold rare talks at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjeom on Thursday, in this photo released by the joint press corps. (Yonhap)
"I understand that (the South) suggested moving the North's artillery that threatens the Seoul metropolitan area to rear areas so as to actively implement the Panmunjeom Declaration," the source added.
Seoul's defense ministry later denied that it proposed the movement of the North's artillery farther north.
According to a 2016 South Korean defense white paper, the North has 14,100 artillery pieces, including 5,500 multiple rocket launchers, a majority of which have been deployed near the border.
Pyongyang is known to possess a variety of rocket systems, including 170 mm-caliber self-propelled howitzers and 240 mm multiple rocket launchers that can easily target Seoul and surrounding areas.
The North's longer-range 300 mm multiple rocket launcher is seen as more formidable, as it is capable of reaching key US military installations in Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi Province and the headquarters of the South's Army, Navy and Air Force in the Gyeryongdae military compound in South Chungcheong Province.
During Thursday's talks, the two Koreas agreed to completely restore their western and eastern military communication lines. They also exchanged opinions on demilitarizing the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjeom on a "trial basis" and agreed to thoroughly implement a 2004 bilateral agreement on preventing accidental clashes in the West Sea.
Seoul is expected to propose holding following-up military talks late this month or next month. (Yonhap)