Koreas to break ground on railway, road connections by early December

Wednesday, 17 Oct, 2018

South Korea's Defense Ministry said the military officials, including U.S. Army Col.

The Joint Security Area is overseen by the U.N. Command and by North Korea, with South Korean and North Korean border guards facing each other only meters (yards) apart.

Speaking to the French daily ahead of a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, Moon explained why he believes North Korea's Kim Jong Un will deliver on the pledges made at his historic summit with the US leader in June.

Both sides also plan to withdraw all firearms from a Joint Security Area at Panmunjom, cut to 35 each the numbers of personnel stationed there and share information on surveillance equipment.

And when the North makes substantial progress in denuclearization, a gradual easing of economic sanctions Pyongyang should be "seriously considered", Moon said. Moon is to encounter President Emmanuel Macron on Monday.

North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

It was a designated neutral zone until the "axe murder incident" in 1976, when North Korean soldiers attacked a work party trying to chop down a tree inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), leaving two USA army officers dead. The JSA is also the scene of a bloody incident in 1976, when two U.S. Army officers were killed by ax-wielding North Korean soldiers.

Moon has said the military agreement is an important trust-building step that will reduce border tensions and create diplomatic space.

In the audit, the South Korean ambassador to the US admitted that he had received a complaint from Washington that Seoul was "moving too quickly" in rapprochement with the North, which can not be forced to give up its nuclear weapons if sanctions are undermined.

The North Korean leader can visit "whenever he feels convenient", an official from the president's office told AFP, confirming a report published Monday by North Korea's KCNA state news service.

When in Seoul earlier this year, members of the South Korean government and independent experts alike were quite clear that Seoul harbored no illusions about the kinds of cooperation that would be possible under the existing sanctions regime, which tightened considerably in 2017 amid North Korea's unprecedented missile and nuclear-testing campaign.

A military deal between the two Koreas, endorsed by Mr Moon and Mr Kim at their third summit, has provoked "discontent" from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Korea said last week.

Tuesday's talks were the first meeting of a trilateral JSA commission made up of the two Koreas and the UN Command, which is included as it retains jurisdiction over the southern half of the JSA.

Washington wants concrete action, such as a full disclosure of North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities, before meeting Pyongyang's demands, including an official end to the Korean war and the easing of global sanctions.