Seoul’s Calls for North Korean Cooperation
Since the collapse of its nuclear diplomacy with the Trump administration in 2019, the North has suspended all cooperation with the South and threatened to scrap the inter-Korean military agreement while expressing anger over the South’s joint military exercises with the United States, which it insists are invasion rehearsals.
South Korea’s vice defense minister on Thursday called for North Korea to resume cooperation under a 2018 military agreement on reducing tensions, which Pyongyang has threatened to abandon over U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
While it will be up to leaders and diplomats to persuade North Korea to go in a different direction, South Korea’s military is “thoroughly” prepared to push forward with inter-Korean military cooperation whenever diplomacy creates room for it, Mr. Park said.
We are very hopeful that the North would respond to our calls to form the joint military committee, Mr. Park emphasised.
He said such a committee would allow both sides to move forward with the agenda agreed to in 2018 and also explore other agendas to strengthen trust between the militaries.
The agreement has been crucial in maintaining stability between the Koreas
The inter-Korean military agreement is one of the few tangible remnants from South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s ambitious diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Moon’s efforts helped set up Kim’s first summit with former U.S. President Donald Trump in June 2018.
The Korean leaders met three times that year, exchanging vague vows about a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and expressing ambitions to reboot inter-Korean engagement when possible, voicing optimism that international sanctions could end and allow such projects.
The agreement, which created buffer zones along land and sea boundaries and no-fly zones above the border to prevent clashes, has been crucial in maintaining stability between the Koreas as their relations worsened in recent months, Vice Defense Minister Park Jae-min told The Associated Press in an interview.
While there haven’t been major skirmishes, North Korea has held back from some critical parts of the agreement, including forming a joint military committee to maintain communication and avoid crisis situations and jointly searching for remains of the 1950-53 Korean War.