The two Koreas resumed military dialogue for the first time in more than 10 years Thursday, discussing detailed measures to ease tension on some disputed inter-Korean border areas.
“Both sides are going to discuss a series of follow-up measures to implement the April 27 Panmunjeom Declaration and arrange schedules for upcoming inter-Korean defense minister talks,” Major General Kim Do-gyun who led the South Korean five-member military delegation told reporters. “We will do the utmost to bring a new era of peace to the Korean Peninsula.”
Inter-Korean military talks have been suspended since December 2007, but Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to restart the dialogue during their summit this April. Jumping on the rare peace mood on the peninsula, leaders of the two Koreas signed an agreement to stop possible military conflicts and bring lasting peace here.
The Kim-led delegation met with its North Korean counterpart at Tongilgak, the northern side of the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjeom. The North’s Lieutenant General An Ik-san led its five-member delegation. In 2004, An also headed its delegations twice during inter-Korean general-level military dialogue.
An also expressed his hopes to realize an inter-Korean peace agreement in an opening statement before the dialogue.
“I am honored to sit face-to-face with the South Korean military authorities and discuss a military agenda to realize the Panmunjeom Declaration at a historic time when the two Koreas are vigorously moving forward for peace and prosperity,” An said.
The meeting came two days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held a historic summit with United States President Donald Trump in Singapore. At that time, the latter declared that the country would suspend joint military exercises with South Korea if the North maintains dialogue with the U.S. for denuclearization of the peninsula.
South Korea’s defense ministry has yet to confirm Trump’s remarks, with its spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo saying Thursday that Seoul and Washington are still in talks over the possible suspension of the joint military drills.
It remains unclear whether the two military delegations discussed details about the Seoul-Washington joint drills. Both sides plan to release a joint agreement after ending their talks on Tuesday night.
The main agenda of the inter-Korean military dialogue will be on the realization of the Panmunjeom Declaration under which both sides agreed to put a complete end to any military conflicts.
They reached an agreement to designate a disputed western sea border, better known as the northern limit line (NLL), and the demilitarized zone as a “Peace Zone.” Both sides also pledged to stop broadcasting propaganda through loudspeakers near the inter-Korean border area as of May 1.
Under the agreement, the Seoul-Pyongyang military dialogue was also supposed to resume sometime in May, but it was delayed after the North canceled a planned high-level inter-Korean dialogue last month, citing the Max Thunder joint air exercises between Seoul and Washington.
As the months-long warming inter-Korean relations began to turn icy, both Koreas had to postpone the military dialogue. But with the North restoring the peace momentum, Seoul and Pyongyang reached an agreement to hold the long-suspended military talks.