SEOUL, South Korea – The North and South Korean military rounded off the withdrawal of troops and firearms from 22 front-line surveillance posts on Saturday, while continuing to implement a comprehensive agreement reached in September to tackle the tensions over the strongest limit of the world, a south, reduce Korean Ministry of Defense officially said.
South Korea says the military agreement is an important step in building trust, which would help stabilize peace and promote reconciliation between rivals. But critics say the South is at risk of losing some of its conventional military power before North Korea takes any meaningful steps in the field of denuclearization – a fear that grows as the larger nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang seemingly end in a stalemate. .
South Korea reportedly has about 60 guard posts – bunker-like concrete structures surrounded by layers of barbed wire fences and manned by soldiers equipped with machine guns and mortars – stretched out over the ironically-named demilitarized zone.
The 248-kilometer border buffer, dotted with millions of landmines, was the site of incidental skirmishes between the two troops since the 1950-53 Korean War. The North is supposed to have about 160 guard posts within the DMZ.
In September's military agreement, reached on the sidelines of a Pyongyang summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the Koreas promised to eventually withdraw all surveillance posts within the DMZ, but to begin with 11 from each side as a "provisional" measure.
The officer of the South Korean Defense Ministry said that on Saturday 11 soldiers disarm guard posts on the south side of the DMZ. He said the ministry is of the opinion that the North is also finished with the withdrawal of personnel and weapons from 11 surveillance posts on the north side of the DMZ. He did not want to be mentioned, with reference to office rules.
The Koreas plans to destroy 20 of the buildings by the end of November, while symbolically leaving one demilitarized guard post on both sides. They plan to jointly verify the results in December.
The Korea also agreed in September to build buffer zones along their land and sea borders and a no-fly zone above the border, which came into force on 1 November.
The Korea & # 39; s and the U.N. US Command has recently removed firearms and troops from a jointly controlled area in the border village of Panmunjom and plans to allow tourists to roam free. The Korea have also removed mines from the front line and intend to start their first joint search in April for remains of soldiers killed during the Korean War.
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