SEOUL – North and South Korea began on Thursday their first high-level military talks in over 10 years to try to ease tensions amid a recent regional rapprochement on the Korean peninsula.
The meeting began around 10:00 am (0100 GMT) on the northern side of the inter-Korean border in the Joint Security Area, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense confirmed to EFE.
The South Korean delegation was led by Major General Kim Do-gyun, while Lieutenant General An Ik-san led the North’s.
“We plan to discuss such issues as easing military tensions between the two Koreas and arranging a defense ministerial meeting as part of efforts to implement what was agreed on in the military sector under the Panmunjom Declaration,” Kim said before the meeting, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
Kim’s remarks referred to the joint declaration endorsed on April 27, in which South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to boost their ties and work towards a permanent peace and the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula.
The discussions between both military officials are expected to revolve around issues such as the restoration of a cross-border military communication line and the establishment of a hotline between their military leaders.
The delegations are also likely to address the possible cancellation of annual military maneuvers between the United States and South Korea, as proposed by US President Donald Trump following the summit in Singapore.
North Korea considers these military exercises a rehearsal for invading its territory, so Trump’s words have been interpreted as a concession to the North Korean regime in exchange for the promise of denuclearization.
The South Korean presidential office said on Wednesday that there was a high possibility that the military maneuvers would be suspended to facilitate Pyongyang’s nuclear disarmament, but the issue still needs to be further discussed in detail.