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(4th LD) Koreas verify DMZ guard post pullout

Defense 17:28 December 12, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES lead paras with completion of verification work)

SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea completed a daylong process to verify their recent work to withdraw some guard posts (GPs) from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Seoul's defense authorities said Wednesday.

The Ministry of National Defense said in a text message to reporters that the North's inspectors finished their work on the southern side of the DMZ and crossed the military demarcation line to return home at around 4:53 p.m.

Seoul and Pyongyang initially agreed to demolish 11 GPs each in the DMZ but decided later to keep one apiece, albeit unarmed, in light of their historical value.

The pullout is part of a broader accord aimed at reducing military tensions, preventing accidental clashes and building trust.

In the morning, the South first sent 11 seven-member teams for the onsite verification at 11 North Korean GPs. The teams crossed the Military Demarcation Line through newly built paths connecting their GPs to the North's posts.

They checked whether arms and troops were completely removed and if any underground facilities were left undestroyed.

South Korean troops walk toward a North Korean guard post in the Demilitarized Zone to verify its withdrawal on Dec. 12, 2018, in this photo provided by the Joint Press Corps. (Yonhap)

In the afternoon, the North also sent 11 teams to verify the pullout of 11 South Korean GPs.

"The two Koreas' troops have made cross-border paths in the DMZ and are moving across the MDL peacefully. ... This is the first such case since the country's division," the ministry said in a statement released ahead of the text message.

"This clearly shows the will of the two Koreas' military authorities to implement their accord," it added.

Aside from the withdrawn guard posts, the Koreas are known to have some 200 such facilities in the DMZ. Their ultimate goal is to take down all of the guard posts and transform the buffer zone into a "peace zone."

The Koreas' defense ministers signed the comprehensive military accord, which includes the withdrawal of 11 guard posts after the third summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang.

The accord includes a series of confidence building and conventional arms control measures, such as disarming the Joint Security Area in the DMZ and setting up air, ground and maritime buffer zones to prevent unintended clashes.

This image, provided by Yonhap News TV, shows troops engaging in a project to remove some border guard posts. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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