North & South Korea demolish army outposts as ties warm up
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North & South Korea demolish army outposts as ties warm up

IN a bid to soften tensions along their heavily-fortified frontier, North and South Korea began destroying 20 guard posts, signalling warming ties between the two estranged neighbours.

South Korea’s military said both Koreas began efforts to demolish 20 border guard posts in the Demilitarised Zone which divided the two Koreas after vacating the premises off troops and equipment, local media reported.

The move came after generals made an agreement on late October to remove 10 posts and preserve one on either side of the border, according to the AFP.

Along the rest of their frontier, South Korea has 60 guard posts remaining while the North has some 160.

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Last month the two Koreas removed all firearms and guard posts in the Joint Security Area (JSA), the sole outpost in the border truce village of Panmujum, where both countries and US-led UN Command stood face to face.

The reconciliatory measure comes as the former war-time foes look to ease tensions and with increased diplomatic engagements.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has opted for a policy of engagement with the isolated neighbour, which has a stockpile of nuclear weapons.

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North Korean (top) and South Korean (bottom) military guard posts are seen near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea, in Paju on Jan 9, 2018. Source: AFP

Seoul’s approach to addressing the threat is in contrast with the US which had pressured Pyongyang to denuclearise before sanctions would be lifted.

In September, both Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Pyongyang for their third summit where the leaders laid out a wide-scale plan to ease tensions along the border.

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The two countries technically remain at war since the 1950-53 Korean War that divided the peninsula but the conflict ended with a ceasefire instead of a peace declaration.

However, the tensions have softened after Moon and Kim began talks to reconcile the relationship of the Koreas.

In June, Kim had met with US President Donald Trump in Singapore to agree on the North’s bid to denuclearise the Korean peninsula but Pyongyang has shown little progress over their pledges to abandon its nuclear arsenal.

Last week, talks between US Secretary Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol were delayed but neither countries revealed a reason for the postponement.