South Korea will propose to North Korea the withdrawal of guard posts in certain designated areas of the Demilitarized Zone, rather than committing to reducing by an equal number of border facilities, its defense chief said Friday.
Song Young-moo made the remarks amid concerns that, should the two Koreas agree to remove the same number of guard posts, Seoul would be put at a disadvantage given that the North has about 160 guard posts in the DMZ, double the number of those run by the South.
Defense Minister Song Young-moo attends a parliamentary session at the National Assembly in Seoul on Aug. 24, 2018. (Yonhap)
Seoul has been pushing for the pullout on a "trial basis" in line with the April inter-Korean summit agreement to transform the DMZ into a "peace zone."
"I wore the military uniform for 40 years, long enough to know that we should not look to reduce by an equal number of guard posts," Song, a retired admiral, said during a session of the National Assembly's defense committee.
"(The pullout of guard posts) will be like from one section to another section (in the DMZ)," he added.
During their general-grade military talks last month, the two Koreas shared their "understanding" on fostering peace in the DMZ through such measures as pulling out guard posts, disarming the Joint Security Area and jointly excavating remains of fallen troops.
At their summit in April, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to "carry out disarmament in a phased manner, as military tension is alleviated and substantial progress is made in military confidence building."
Seoul and Pyongyang have recently taken some trust-building measures, such as fully restoring their military communication channels. (Yonhap)