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Koreas, UNC agree to remove firearms, troops from border area

The two Koreas and the UN Command (UNC), led by the US, agreed on Monday to withdraw firearms and guard posts from the Joint Security Area (JSA), the only part in the Korean Demilitarized Zone where troops from the three sides stand face to face.

It was part of the results of the second round of working-level talks among the two Koreas and the UNC which took place at the Freedom House, a South Korea-controlled building at the truce village of Panmunjom, Yonhap news agnecy reported.

In accordance with the inter-Korean military agreement clinched in September, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to disarm the JSA, and the first trilateral meeting to discuss ways for its implementation was held last week. The UNC oversees activities inside the Demilitarized Zone.

“The two Koreas and the UNC agreed to take measures of withdrawing firearms and military posts from the JSA by October 25, and for the following two days, the three parties will conduct a joint verification,” the Ministry of National Defence in Seoul said in a release.

The three parties also “confirmed and evaluated the official completion of the demining operations”, the ministry said, vowing “continuous efforts to fulfil the JSA disarmament goal without a hitch”. Last week, the two Koreas finished their 20-day mine clearance work.

At Monday’s talks, the South and the North were represented by Army Col. Cho Yong-geun and Army Col. Om Chang-nam, respectively. The UNC’s delegation was headed by US Army Col. Burke Hamilton, the Military Armistice Committee secretary.

Separately, the two Koreas’ militaries decided to hold general-grade talks to discuss the enforcement of their recent military agreement at Tongilgak, a North Korean building in Panmunjom, on Friday.

At the talks, the two sides will also discuss how to form and run a joint military committee tasked with checking the enforcement of the agreement. In addition, they will touch on the plan to conduct joint research on the Han River estuary where civilian access has been restricted due to inter-Korean tensions.

Seoul first made the proposal for the talks, which Pyongyang later accepted, officials said.

Major Gen. Kim Do-gyun will lead South Korea’s delegation, while the North Korean side will be represented by Lt. Gen. An Ik-san.

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