By Song Sang-ho
WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday threw his support behind a recent inter-Korean military agreement amid reports that Washington opposes some part of the document aimed at reducing tensions and preventing accidental clashes.
During a press conference after the annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) with his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo, at the Pentagon, Mattis said "yes" in response to a question by the Korean press of whether he supports the agreement.
It is the first time that a top U.S. official made a public endorsement of the agreement signed by the two Koreas' defense ministers after the third summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang in September.
The agreement entails disarming the Joint Security Area in the Demilitarized Zone, withdrawing some border guard posts and setting up ground, maritime and air buffer zones. Some measures could restrict U.S. military operations in frontline areas -- a reason why the U.S. military has reportedly voiced unease over the agreement.
The Korean-language joint SCM statement noted that Jeong and Mattis "shared the view" that the military agreement should be enforced in a way that contributes to the actual reduction of tensions and the establishment of peace on the peninsula.
The statement also said that Mattis shared the understanding that the two Korea's measures to build trust are important in fostering peace on the peninsula.
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