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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

All News 16:00 February 07, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

S. Korea-U.S. drills unaffected by inter-Korean military pact: Seoul ministry

SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- A military tension-reduction agreement signed in 2018 between South and North Korea caused no restrictions on joint military exercises between the South and the United States, Seoul's defense ministry said Monday.

Some local media reports have claimed the Comprehensive Military Agreement, signed during the third inter-Korean summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has barred Seoul and Washington from staging firing drills near inter-Korean border areas.

The agreement calls for a series of measures, such as the stopping of all hostile acts against each other, to reduce tensions on the peninsula and build trust.

Cabinet approves plan to expand ministry bureau in charge of inter-Korean exchanges

SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the unification ministry's plan to expand its bureau in charge of cross-border exchanges and cooperation, the ministry said.

The reorganization plan, the largest one carried out at the ministry in a decade, will take effect next Tuesday following related procedures, the ministry said.

Under the restructuring, the ministry will establish a new division that will take charge of border cooperation issues, such as Seoul's push to turn the Demilitarized Zone, which bisects the two Koreas, into a global peace zone.

Seoul closely monitoring N. Korea ahead of army's founding anniversary

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is closely monitoring North Korea on the eve of the 72nd anniversary of its army's founding, the unification ministry said Friday, though Pyongyang is likely to skip a massive military parade this year due to the new coronavirus.

The "Army-Building Day," which commemorates the 1948 establishment of the Korean People's Army, is one of North Korea's biggest national holidays.

Asked to comment on any signs of the North's preparations for a possible event to mark the anniversary, Cho Hey-sil, the ministry's deputy spokesperson, said there is "nothing special" to report.

Inter-Korean military hotlines in normal operation: defense ministry

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- Military communication lines between South and North Korea are operating normally, Seoul's defense ministry said Friday, despite stalled inter-Korean relations.

The military authorities of the two Koreas "have had regular telephone calls twice a day at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. via their eastern and western military communication lines," ministry spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo told reporters.

When necessary, the two sides have spoken to each other through these lines often at various times, the official added.

Seoul taking new coronavirus into consideration while weighing individual tours to N.K.

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is taking the issue of the new coronavirus into consideration as it contemplates a proposal to allow its citizens to travel to North Korea on an individual basis to revive inter-Korean exchanges, the unification ministry said Friday.

The government has been working on the individual tourism idea after President Moon Jae-in cited it as a possible way to expand inter-Korean exchanges without violating U.N. sanctions on the North last month.

But the push hit a snag after the deadly virus broke out in China and across the globe. As of Friday, South Korea has confirmed 24 cases of the new virus.

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