Two Koreas, UN Hold Talks to Disarm Heavily Fortified Border

(Bloomberg) -- Officials from South Korea, North Korea and the United Nations are scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss disarming the tensely guarded inter-Korea border as the two countries look for ways to ratchet down military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea’s defense ministry said the meeting at the border village of Panmunjom will focus on landmine removal operations that the two Koreas began undertaking this month and discuss details of disarming and reducing the number of guards at the Joint Security Area.

Those measures were part of the military agreement signed by defense ministers of the nations at their leaders’ summit in Pyongyang last month. South Korea President Moon Jae-in touted the military pact as a meaningful move to reduce conventional military threats.

The meeting comes as the U.S. expressed discontent with South Korea for moving forward with the plans without consulting U.S. officials, who fear such inter-Korea pacts could undermine nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea.

Jointly overseen by the UN Command, the JSA is where South Korean and North Korean border guards stand just meters from each other. It is located inside the Demilitarized Zone, also known as the DMZ, which serves as a border between the two Koreas. Panmunjom border village, where Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held their historic first meeting in April, is located in the JSA.

The JSA has also been the site of military incidents that have inflamed tensions on the peninsula. Last November, North Korean guards fired dozens of bullets at a North Korean soldier fleeing to South Korea’s side of the complex.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.