North and South Korea and the UN Command yesterday agreed to withdraw firearms and guard posts from the demilitarized zone (DMZ) village of Panmunjom this week, the South Korean Ministry of Defense said, the latest move in a fast-improving relationship.
The three sides held their second round of talks at Panmunjom to discuss ways to demilitarize the border in line with an inter-Korean pact reached at last month’s summit in Pyongyang.
The US-led command, which has overseen affairs in the DMZ since the end of hostilities in the 1950-1953 Korean War, was not immediately available for comment, but it said on Friday that it supports the two Koreas’ efforts to implement their military deal.
The announcement came amid US concerns that the inter-Korean military initiative could undermine defense readiness and comes without substantial progress on North Korea’s promised denuclearization.
The neighbors are looking to withdraw 11 guard posts within a 1km radius of the Military Demarcation Line on their border by the end of the year.
They also plan to pull out all firearms from a Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjom, and cut to 35 each the number of personnel stationed there and share information on surveillance equipment.
At yesterday’s meeting, 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, the ministry said.
The two Koreas have been removing landmines around the area as part of the agreement and they confirmed the completion of the demining operation at the talks with the command.
“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 ministry said in a statement.
The agreement also includes a halt in “all hostile acts” and a no-fly zone around the border.
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