Koreas, U.S.-led UN Command discuss disarming border area

Clay Curtis
October 17, 2018

The agreement was announced in a joint statement on Monday after high-level talks between the South and North in the Peace House of Panmunjom.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, left, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Ri Son Gwon during their meeting at the southern side of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Monday, Oct. 15.

Despite this week's talks, North Korea has sounded some sour notes, blaming Seoul for delays in implementing agreements and denouncing the United States for insisting that global sanctions must stay in place until Pyongyang gives up its nuclear weapons.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is honest and really means to abandon nuclear weapons, South Korean President Moon Jae-in told a French newspaper, adding that the worldwide community needed to reward him for that.

They agreed to resume economic cooperation, including relinking railways and roads. France is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, so Moon could discuss sanctions on the North, according to Le Monde.

The meeting comes amid United States concerns that the warming ties may be outpacing negotiations to dismantle North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha also said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had expressed displeasure about the Koreas' military agreement.

During his summit with Kim last month, the two men also agreed to remove some guard posts at the border by the end of the year and to halt military drills in the area from November.

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

The two leaders agreed to hold talks with the UNC, which overlaps with USA forces in the South and oversees affairs in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, to smooth the way to disarming one of the world's most heavily fortified frontiers.

Kang's remarks amounted to a rare confirmation of discord between Seoul and Washington, though the allies have said they remain in lockstep on North Korea.

French President Emmanuel Macron (C-R), his wife Brigitte Macron (L) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (C-L) toast during a state dinner at the Elysee Presidential palace in Paris, on October 15.

Trump has encouraged USA allies to maintain sanctions on North Korea until it denuclearizes to maintain a campaign of pressure against Kim's government.

The ministry says North Korea did not demand that Kim be excluded from covering the meeting.

The decision to exclude the reporter from the conservative Chosun Ilbo on Monday drew an angry reaction from other South Korean journalists.

"They discussed practical issues regarding demilitarisation steps to be conducted in the future", the South Korean ministry said in a statement.

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