Panmunjeom – North Korea urged South Korea Thursday to suspend its joint military exercise with the United States during rare military talks as US President Donald Trump floated the idea of halting what he described as a “provocative, expensive” war game.
According to the Ministry of National Defense, North Korean delegates demanded their South Korean counterpart halt the joint military exercise in the spirit of the Panmunjeom agreement, where the two Koreas leaders pledged to cease cross-border hostilities.
The South Korean delegates, in response, said the measure needs further discussion with the US. During his National Security Council meeting, President Moon Jae-in said he would give “serious consideration” to the suspension of the exercise.
“If North Korea implements denuclearization measures and sincere dialogue continues to ease their hostile relations, the country needs to flexibly change its military pressure against the North,” Moon was quoted as saying by Cheong Wa Dae.
The defense ministry added that the North Korea delegates did not specifically mention about the upcoming computer-simulated Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise scheduled for this August
While the two Koreas’ militaries pledged to honor their previous agreements on easing cross-border tensions, but appeared to remain apart over detailed measures for implementation.
According to the joint statement, the two sides agreed to “faithfully implement” their 2004 agreement designed to prevent an armed clash in the heavily-fortified demilitarized zone and waters close to North Korea.
Both sides also exchanged their views “sufficiently” over how to cease cross-border hostilities -- such as disarming Joint Security Area inside the truce village of Panmunjeom, coming up with military measures to ensure safety at the cross-border region and creating a “peace zone” in the West Sea.
But the much-anticipated meeting -- the first such held since 2007 -- appears to fall short of reaching initial expectations of returning the heavily-fortified demilitarized zone by pulling back guard posts and heavy artillery scattered across the cross-border region.
“We shouldn’t do such meetings again,” said Lt. Gen. An Ik-san, North Korea’s chief delegate. “It’s such a shame because we really wanted to have an exemplary meeting. I understand (South Korean) position. We have to make better preparation.