The two Koreas agree to resume high-level military talks on June 14

The two Koreas agreed to resume high-level military talks on June 14 to discuss measures to ease border tensions and vitalize exchanges in all sectors during their high-level talks at the truce village of Panmunjeom, Friday.

They also agreed to set up a liaison office inside the Gaeseong Industrial Complex (GIC) in North Korea “at an early date.”

These agreements are in line with the landmark Panmunjeom Declaration agreement signed by President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their April 27 summit, also held at Panmunjeom, South Korean officials said.

The South will send a team of officials to the GIC on June 15 to discuss opening the liaison office, which is expected to play a central role in future inter-Korean exchanges.

The industrial complex has been closed since February 2016 as part of the international community’s economic sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program.

Seoul denied media reports that the opening of the liaison office will be a preparatory step toward resuming operation of the GIC.

Among other cross-border agreements reached, Friday, were talks on easing military tension, joint participation in the Asian Games 2018 and reunions of separated families.

The talks among top military officers will take place on June 14 at Tongilgak on the North Korean side of Panmunjeom.

This will be the first top-level military dialogue since December 2017 and a series of pending issues are expected to be brought up.

The preparatory dialogue for the Asian Games, slated for Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 in Indonesia, will be held on June 18 at the Peace House on the South Korean side of Panmunjeom.

The June 18 dialogue will also include a joint basketball game as suggested by Kim, known as a diehard basketball fan.

Red Cross officials of Seoul and Pyongyang will meet on June 22 at the Mount Geumgang resort in the North, to discuss holding cross-border family reunions at the resort on Aug. 15.

“We discussed the practical measures needed to implement the Panmunjeom Declaration in a discreet manner before reaching an agreement,” the two Koreas said in a statement released after the high-level talks.

They said they will hold high-level talks regularly to check on implementation of the Panmunjeom Declaration.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon led South Korea’s five-member delegation, including Vice Transport Minister Kim Jeong-ryeol and Vice Culture Minister Roh Tae-kang.

Led by Committee for the Peaceful Reunification Chairman Ri Son-gwon, the North’s five-member team included Vice Railroad Minister Kim Yun-hyok and Vice Sports Minister Won Kil-u.

In their joint statement, the two delegations also agreed to consult each other in letters on jointly commemorating the anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit from June 13 to 15, 2000.

But Cho said later Friday the two Koreas will not mark the summit’s 18th anniversary.

This was attributed to Pyongyang’s last-minute preparations for the much-anticipated June 12 summit between Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore.

Seoul and Pyongyang last celebrated the June 2000 summit together in 2008.

Some other topics discussed, Friday, were issues on reconnecting railways and roads across the border as well as reforestation in the North.

Full-scale economic cooperation, however, would violate the U.S.-led sanctions on the North, and they may need to wait depending on the outcome of the Kim-Trump summit.

The high-level talks touched on six South Koreans detained in the North as well.

“The North explained its relevant organization is reviewing the case when we raised the issue,” Cho said.

The two Koreas initially agreed to hold high-level talks on May 16, but North Korea boycotted the dialogue over a military drill between Seoul and Washington.

President Moon Jae-in and Kim agreed to uphold their April 27 declaration and hold high-level talks accordingly, during their surprise second meeting on May 26 to discuss issues related to the Kim-Trump summit.

Source – The Korea Times

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