October 17, 2018 09:17
North and South Korea soldiers guarding the Joint Security Area in the border truce village of Panmunjom will be disarmed within this year and foreign tourists will be allowed to enter the area.
Representatives from North and South Korea and the UN Command met in Panmunjom on Tuesday and agreed to the disarmament. The meeting took place after North and South Korea belatedly formed a three-way negotiating body with the UNC to finalize disarmament steps that President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un mooted at their summit on Sept. 19.
"This is the first time that officers from the two Koreas and UN Command held a meeting," the Defense Ministry said.
There had been rumblings of displeasure from the UNC, which oversees the demilitarized zone and is headed by the U.S., that it was not consulted on a wide-ranging military agreement signed by Moon and Kim.
Among other things, they agreed to post only 35 unarmed soldiers each in the JSA and to allow civilians to visit the JSA from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A government said, "As early as this year, the JSA will be transformed into a place North and South Korean civilians and tourists can freely enter and leave and contact each other."
But both sides will set up guard posts at the entry points to prevent defections, and for now North and South Korean civilians will visit the JSA at different times to prevent them running into each other.
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