South Korea proposes moving North's long-range artillery away from border: Media

A North Korean flag flutters on top of a tower at the village of Gijungdong in North Korea, in this picture taken near the truce village of Panmunjom, South Korea, on Aug 26, 2017.
A North Korean flag flutters on top of a tower at the village of Gijungdong in North Korea, in this picture taken near the truce village of Panmunjom, South Korea, on Aug 26, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL - South Korea has proposed that North Korea move its long-range artillery away from the heavily armed border in an effort to reduce tensions, Yonhap news agency reported government sources as saying.

Officials made several suggestions during last Thursday's cross-border military talks, including relocating the artillery 30 to 40 kilometres away from the Military Demarcation Line separating the two Koreas, said Yonhap, citing sources.

The talks - the first in more than a decade - comes after the Panmunjom Declaration which resulted from the April 27 inter-Korean summit at the truce village. The declaration had called for joint efforts to alleviate military tensions and "practically eliminate the danger of war".

"We conveyed our position to the North that in light of consultations between the North and the United States over the denuclearisation issue, we have to craft measures to drastically reduce military tensions by removing practical threats," Yonhap reported a source saying on condition of anonymity.

"I understand that (the South) suggested moving the North's artillery that threatens the Seoul metropolitan area to rear areas so as to actively implement the Panmunjom Declaration," the source added.

Yonhap said South Korea's defence ministry denied the proposal.

It said, based on a 2016 South Korean defence white paper, North Korea has 14,100 artillery pieces, including 5,500 multiple rocket launchers, most of which have been deployed near the border.

 
 

The South Korean news agency said North Korea has a variety of rocket systems, including some that can hit Seoul. Its longer-range 300 mm multiple rocket launcher is capable of reaching key US military installations in Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi province as well as the headquarters of the South Korea's army, navy and air force in South Chungcheong province.

The two Koreas on Thursday agreed to restore military communications lines along the eastern and western areas.

The two sides also discussed a pilot demilitarisation of the Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom to ease military tensions at the border.

Seoul is expected to propose follow-up talks later this month or next month.