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(LEAD) UNC says it stands ready to approve DMZ entry requests despite coronavirus concerns

All News 17:39 March 05, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES last 3 paras with Kim's letter to Moon)

SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) -- The United Nations Command (UNC) has said it stands ready to approve requests for entry into the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas in order to support aid provision, diplomatic meetings and other inter-Korean projects despite coronavirus concerns.

"Things are quieter since #NorthKorea closed its borders due to #COVID19, but UNC personnel still stand ready to approve & facilitate crossings between the two Koreas," the U.S.-led command said in a Facebook post Wednesday.

The UNC has been the enforcer of the armistice agreement that halted the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korea has restricted cross-border travel since late January as part of efforts to prevent the new virus from spreading into the country. Pyongyang claims that not a single case of the virus has been reported on its soil.

The UNC's comment came just one day after North Korea expressed displeasure at the office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in complaining about Pyongyang's recent projectile launches.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, called Cheong Wa Dae "gangster-like" and "foolish" for taking issue with what it calls an "action for self-defence."

On Wednesday, however, the North's leader sent a personal letter to Moon in an apparent conciliatory gesture and wished Moon and other South Koreans good health amid the massive outbreak of the novel coronavirus, according to the presidential office.

"Chairman Kim said he will quietly support South Korea's fight against COVID-19 and showed his constant friendship and trust toward Moon," Yoon Do-han, Cheong Wa Dae's senior secretary for public communication, said.

This photo, captured from the United Nations Command's Facebook account, shows a transportation corridor connecting South and North Korea on the east coast. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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