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Koreas to begin joint waterway survey along western border

Defense 08:46 November 05, 2018

SEOUL, Nov. 5 (Yonhap) -- The Koreas will begin a joint survey of a waterway along their western border Monday to jointly use the estuaries of the Han and Imjin rivers where civilian access has been restricted due to military tensions, Seoul's defense ministry said.

Under the September inter-Korean military accord, they will conduct it until the end of the year to militarily guarantee the safety of the river estuaries so that they can be used for tourism, ecological protection and the collection of construction aggregate.

The 20-member survey team consists of 10 people from each side, including military and maritime government officials and waterway experts. The team members will carry no weapons and are banned from doing any provocative acts during the joint survey.

The estuaries that the Koreas agreed to jointly use span around 280 square kilometers.

Under the inter-Korean accord, people and ships that want to use the areas must notify the military authorities a day before their entry. Between April and September, people will be allowed to use the estuaries from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., while they will remain open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. between October and March.

"We will be able to restore yet another peace zone if we can militarily ensure safety in the waterways to which free access has been blocked due to military tensions between the two Koreas," a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

During the 2007 inter-Korean summit, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed on a set of projects through the joint use of the river estuaries. But they did not materialize due to strains in cross-border relations.

The joint survey is another step by the Koreas to enforce their military agreement signed by their defense ministers after the third inter-Korean summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Aimed at reducing tensions and preventing accidental clashes, the agreement includes various trust-building measures and conventional arms control plans, such as disarming the Joint Security Area in the Demilitarized Zone and removing some border guard posts on a trial basis.

This map, provided by South Korea's defense ministry, shows the Han River estuary that the Koreas have agreed to use together. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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