Measures to ease tensions on Korean Peninsula being carried out

Jun 18, 2018, 09:35 am

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Source: Yonhap News

By AsiaToday reporter Choi Tae-beom 

Since the U.S.-North Korea summit talks, measures are being taken to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Chances are growing that the U.S., South Korea and North Korea will cooperate to declare an end to the Korean War soon. 

South Korea and the United States have begun discussing a plan to stop their joint military drills amid talks with North Korea, according to a government source on Sunday. 

The South Korea-U.S. military authorities are reportedly planning to suspend the three large-scale combined military drills including Foal Eagle, Key Resolve, and Ulchi Freedom Guardian, and to resume the massive military exercise if North Korea fails to fulfill its commitment to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
"The South Korean and U.S. military authorities have been close consultations over the combined exercises that U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will stop," a government source said. "They will jointly announce the results of their discussions this week."

In addition to the suspension of the joint exercises between South Korea and the United States, the two Koreas have reportedly started discussions about withdrawing the North's long-range artillery deployed near the Military Demarcation Line to rear areas during Thursday's general-level meeting.

The discussion about withdrawing the North's artillery pieces is in line with the announcement by the implementation committee for the Panmunjeom Declaration made on Friday. The implementation committee said it will actively pursue demilitarization of the Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjeom as proposed by North Korea. 

The North's long-range artillery is considered one of the major threats to Seoul's security, along with nuclear weapons and missiles. About 330 of the artillery pieces are aimed at Seoul and surrounding areas. If the artillery pieces are withdrawn to rear areas, it is expected to be a landmark turning point in mitigating military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and establishing trust between the two Koreas. 

In particular, if such an active measure of North Korea is realized, it is expected to become a powerful driving force for building "a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula", which is one of the terms of an agreement of the U.S.-North Korea summit talks.

Besides, if a direct hotline is set up between the leaders of the United States and North Korea, it is expected to further boost the atmosphere of dialogue on the Korean Peninsula toward the declaration of ending the Korean War. U.S. President Donald Trump said during a news conference at the White House on Friday that he had given Kim Jong-un a direct phone number.

While an additional high-level meeting between the North and the United States is expected to begin soon, the hotline between the leaders will have a positive impact on the second round of the negotiations.

"If a hotline is opened between the United States and North Korea, direct talks among the leaders of the two Koreas and the United States will become permanent," a diplomatic expert said. "Significant progress can be made in the conclusion of a peace treaty on the Korean Peninsula beyond negotiations on denuclearization and regime guarantee."

#military tensions #Korean Peninsula #denuclearization #military drills 
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