Two Koreas, UN Command discuss border security zone disarmament

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Seoul, Oct 16 (IANS) The two Koreas and the UN Command (UNC), led by the US, held their first trilateral consultations on Tuesday over disarming the Joint Security Area (JSA) in the heavily fortified border area, South Korea’s Defence Ministry said.

The meeting took place behind closed doors at the border village of Panmunjom and was headed by South Korean Colonel Cho Yong-geun, North Korean Colonel Om Chang-nam and US Colonel Burke Hamilton, the Secretary of the UNC Military Armistice Committee, the ministry said in a press release.

Seoul and Pyongyang had earlier agreed to establish weapon-free areas in the JSA, with the aim of lowering tensions, in the military agreement signed by defence officials in September, the biggest pact on the matter signed by the two countries since the peninsula was divided in 1945.

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The UNC has jurisdiction over the JSA, where South and North Korean forces stand face to face.

“We held working-level consultations over measures to be taken for (JSA) disarmament, such as withdrawing firearms and guard posts, reducing guard personnel and readjusting monitoring equipment,” the ministry was cited as saying by Yonhap news agency.

“(We) have decided to proceed with plans for disarmament measures and mutual verification procedures through the trilateral consultation body,” it added.

The South and the North Koreas plan to withdraw four and five guard posts, respectively, from the JSA. Each side will station a patrol of 35 soldiers, including five officers, with no firearms, there.

Korean people and foreign tourists will be allowed to cross the military demarcation line from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, the report said.

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As part the implementation of the September agreement, the two Koreas had begun joint work on October 1 to remove anti-personnel mines from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at the border, the results of which were reviewed at Tuesday’s meeting.

–IANS

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