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(LEAD) Two Koreas hold general-grade military talks on reducing tension

All Headlines 10:19 July 31, 2018

(ATTN: CHANGES dateline; RECASTS throughout to indicate talks began; TRIMS)

PANMUNJOM/SEOUL, July 31 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- The two Koreas held general-grade military talks Tuesday at the border truce village of Panmunjom to discuss measures to enforce the military part of their April summit agreement.

The meeting, the first one since June 14, took place at the Peace House, a South Korea-controlled building at the village inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas.

"We will make our best efforts to ensure that we can craft practical measures to reduce military tensions and build trust between the two Koreas through this meeting," Major Gen. Kim Do-gyun, the chief of the five-member South Korean delegation, told reporters before departing for Panmunjom.

Major Gen. Kim Do-gyun (2nd from R), the chief of South Korea's delegation to the inter-Korean military talks, speaks to the press in Seoul on July 31, 2018, before departing for the border truce village of Panmunjom. (Yonhap)

Kim's delegation joined the North Korean delegation led by Lt. Gen. An Ik-san for the talks aimed at fleshing out the summit agreement to make joint efforts to alleviate tensions and "practically eliminate the danger of war."

Observers said that the two sides could exchange views on disarming the Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom as part of efforts to transform the DMZ into a "peace zone," an issue that they discussed at last month's talks.

Attention is also being drawn to whether they will discuss Seoul's idea of withdrawing forces and their equipment from border guard posts in stages on a "trial basis." The South is known to run some 60 guard posts in the DMZ, while the North has around 160.

Observers also said that the agenda could include the issue of fostering peace around the Northern Limit Line, a de facto maritime border, and a joint project to excavate remains of troops who were killed during the 1950-53 Korean War and left in the DMZ.

During last month's talks, the first in more than a decade, the two sides agreed to completely restore their military communication lines.


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