Two Koreas, U.N. Command wrap up first talks on disarming border

Written by Hyonhee Shin

North and South Korea held their first three-way talks with the United Nations Command (UNC) on Tuesday to discuss ways to demilitarize the border as the neighbors push for peace, South Korea’s defense ministry said.

The two Koreas agreed this week to begin reconnecting rail and road links, in spite of U.S. concerns that a rapid thaw in relations could undermine efforts to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

Tuesday’s meeting followed a summit between leaders of the two countries in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, last month.

The two leaders agreed to hold talks with the UNC, which overlaps with U.S. 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.

The meeting on Tuesday lasted for about two hours at the border village of Panmunjom, and was led by military officials of the rank of colonel from the two sides and Burke Hamilton, secretary of the UNC Military Armistice Commission, the ministry said.

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

The steps they are aiming for range from withdrawing firearms and guard posts to reducing personnel and adjusting surveillance equipment, the ministry said, adding that the three-way channel would be used for more discussions.

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Hyonhee Shin