North, South Korea hold military talks amid US plan to stop drills

South Korea's lead negotiator Kim Do Gyun (right) shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Ahn Il San during high-level inter-Korean military talks in the border village of Panmunjom on June 14, 2018.
South Korea's lead negotiator Kim Do Gyun (right) shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Ahn Il San during high-level inter-Korean military talks in the border village of Panmunjom on June 14, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL (REUTERS) - North and South Korea held military talks for the first time in more than a decade on Thursday (June 14), as two-star generals from both sides met just two days after US President Donald Trump floated his plan to halt joint exercises with South Korea.

The talks, held in the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone (DMZ), followed on from an inter-Korea summit in April at which leaders of the two Koreas had agreed to defuse tensions and cease "all hostile acts".

The talks came two days after Mr Trump said he would stop "expensive, provocative" war games with the South, following his historic summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Mr Trump's move had caught South Korean officials off guard, but they said a halt in the drills was needed while dialogue with the North was underway.

The military talks had been initially slated for May, but were postponed after the North called off another planned high-level meeting in protest against US-South Korean air combat exercises.

The process was put back on track during a surprise second summit early this month between Mr Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In.

The last time the two Koreas held military talks was in 2007.

 
 

North Korea's chief delegate Ahn Il San said the delay was due to "certain headwinds" without elaborating, adding that the two sides should overcome future obstacles based on mutual understanding and the spirit of the inter-Korea summit.

The South's lead negotiator Kim Do Gyun, who is in charge of North Korea policy at the Defence Ministry, told reporters before departing for the DMZ that he and his North Korean counterpart would explore ways to ease military tensions and the schedule of a ministerial meeting.

They are also expected to discuss the planned establishment of a hotline between the two militaries.